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How to Make Gluhwein (German Mulled Wine)

Gluhwein is a delicious festive drink that’s very easy to make. In this post, you will find three Gluhwein recipes as well as tips and tricks on how to make the best Gluhwein possible.

Close up of red Gluhwein in a mug decorated with cinnamon sticks and star anise.

What is Gluhwein?

Gluhwein is a spiced mulled wine popular in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other German-speaking parts of Europe. This hot drink is traditionally served around holidays.

Gluhwein literally means glowing-wine. When I tried it for the first time at a Chriskindlemarkt (Christmas Market in German), I thought it was called this way because of the glowing Christmas lights. I later found out that it wasn’t the case, but for me, Gluhwein and Christmas lights still go together.

In German, it’s spelled Glühwein with the letter ü which doesn’t exist in the English alphabet. So, the letter ü was replaced with u, and Glühwein became Gluhwein.

Is Gluhwein the Same as Mulled Wine?

Gluhwein is the German mulled wine. Other popular types of mulled wine are, for example, Scandinavian Glögg or French Vin Chaud.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Gluhwein From Scratch?

The main ingredients of Gluhwein are wine, winter spices, orange or lemon, and sweetener.

You can also make it “mit Schuss” which means with a shot of a stronger alcoholic drink.

You can also make an alcohol free version using juices or tea instead of wine.

Here is what you’ll need to make Gluhwein:

1. Liquids

Wine is the main ingredient in Gluhwein and will determine the flavor of the drink. This is why always use wine that you would drink cold.

The wine doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be tasty. Don’t try to mask the taste of bad wine with tons of spices and sugar because it never works.

Gluhwein can be made using red, white, or rose wine. Usually, dry or semi-sweet wine is recommended.

Since Gluhwein is served hot and the heat intensifies the taste of alcohol, it’s very common to dilute the wine with water, juice, or tea.

2. Spices

Spices add a lot of flavor to the drink. When it comes to the spice mix, the sky is the limit. There are really no rules as long as the drink tastes good.

Traditional Gluhwein spices:

  • whole cloves
  • cinnamon sticks
  • star anise
  • cardamom
  • allspice

Traditional Gluhwein spices on a marble background.

Other popular aromatics which are often added to Gluhwein:

  • nutmeg
  • vanilla
  • ginger
  • black peppercorns
  • coriander seeds
  • juniper berries
  • bay leaf
  • thyme
  • rose
  • hibiscus
  • rooibos tea

3. Fruits and berries

Fruits add another note to the flavor of Gluhwein. Most popular are oranges and lemons. They are zested, juiced or sliced first and then added to the drink. Apples, pears, or cranberries can also be added to make Gluhwein more fruity.

4. Sweetener

The most popular sweeteners for Gluhwein are regular sugar or honey. You can also add brown sugar. Although maple syrup is not an authentic ingredient, it makes a great sweetener for any mulled wine.

Should You Make Red Or White Gluhwein?

The traditional Gluhwein is made with red wine. In some regions, you can also find white Gluhwein.

In my opinion, red wine can take more spices while white wine is milder and goes well with vanilla and apples.

White Gluhwein in mugs.

Non-Alcoholic Gluhwein (Alcohol-Free Mulled Wine)

Gluhwein without alcohol is not only for kids. In fact, I prefer it to the alcoholic version because I can drink it anytime. It’s so delicious that no one at your party will feel left out.

To make non-alcoholic Gluhwein, you will need cranberry or pomegranate juice. Just like with choosing the wine for the alcoholic version, make sure that the juice tastes good, is good quality, and not too sweet.

The preparation steps for the alcohol-free Gluhwein are the same. The only difference is that most of the time no additional sweetener is needed because juices are usually very sweet.

Red Gluhwein in a mug.

How to Make Gluhwein

Once you have all the ingredients on hand, the question is, how do you make Gluhwein at home?

Making Gluhwein from scratch is actually very easy, and regardless of the recipe variation you choose, the instructions are very similar:

  1. First, pour the liquids into a saucepan.
  2. Then add the spices and start warming everything up over medium heat. If using orange or lemon, zest them first and then press out the juice. Add the zest and juice to the wine.
  3. When the wine starts steaming and small bubbles start rising to the top, the liquid is close to boiling. Reduce the heat and make sure not to boil the wine.
  4. Keep heating the wine for 5 minutes then turn off the heat. Add sweetener to taste if needed. Cover and let it stand for about 45 minutes. Reheat before serving.

Red wine and spices in a saucepan.

6 Tips for Making the Best Gluhwein

As you can see, making homemade Gluhwein is very easy. If you choose good quality ingredients and follow the above instructions, you most likely will end up with a delicious festive drink.

But there are still a few tricks that will help you make the best Gluhwein possible:

1. Choose good quality wine that you would drink cold.

As I’ve already mentioned above, always use the wine that you like to drink. It’s impossible to mask the taste of bad wine with spices and sugar.

If you’ve ever bought ready-made Gluhwein, you know what I am talking about. This is exactly what they do to produce it – get the cheapest wine possible and then add tons of sugar and mega doses of spices. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work very well.

2. Use non-reactive cookware.

Wine is acidic and should not be heated in cookware made from reactive material such as aluminum, copper, or iron.

Always use non-reactive cookware to make Gluhwein. Non-reactive cookware is pots and pans made from materials that won’t react with acidic foods. Examples of non-reactive materials are stainless steel and glass or cookware made with non-reactive coating.

3. Don’t boil the Gluhwein.

The boiling point of alcohol is lower than water, so when you boil the Gluhwein, some of the alcohol will evaporate.

But in my opinion, this is not the most important reason to avoid boiling Gluhwein.

The most important reason to keep the liquids below the boiling point is the spices. When vigorously boiled, even for a brief moment, the spices can make Gluhwein very bitter.

4. Take out the spices and orange/lemon peel if you intend to store it for more than 2 hours.

If you leave the orange peel in the wine for too long, it can add some bitterness to the drink. The same can happen with some spices.

Cinnamon is usually fine to leave inside and will even help to infuse the wine, but some other spices such as, for example, cloves and cardamom, can make it too bitter.

5. Use whole spices instead of ground ones.

When added in large amounts, ground spices will make a drink cloudy and add an unpleasant mouthfeel.

In addition, it’s better to remove the spices from the drink if you are planning to store it for more than two hours. If you have a tea ball or tea infuser basket, add the whole spices to them to make it easier to remove.

6. Experiment with spices to find your favorite combination.

When it comes to spices, there is no exact spice blend for making Gluhwein. This is why you will find so many different Gluhwein recipes in cookbooks and online.

The best way to find your favorite combination of spices is to experiment. Just take a basic recipe and add or remove spices to make it perfect for your taste.

Red Gluhwein in mugs garnished with anise stars and cinnamon sticks.

How Do you Serve Gluhwein?

The best way to serve Gluhwein is in a good company and with the Christmas lights on 🙂

Seriously though, Gluhwein is a hot drink, so it should be served in mugs or heat resistant glasses just like you would serve tea or hot chocolate.

Don’t try pouring hot Gluhwein into regular wine glasses. First of all, a regular wine glass can break from the heat. It’s also not comfortable to hold a hot glass in your hands, and your drink will get cold very quickly.

Can You Make Gluhwein in Advance?

Yes, Gluhwein can be made in advance. I find that it’s fine to store it for up to 2 days.

How Do You Store Gluhwein?

Before storing Gluhwein, let it cool to room temperature. Then remove all the spices and lemon or orange peel. Store the Gluhwein in the fridge in a glass jar with a thigh lid. Reheat before serving.

Can Gluhwein be Reheated?

Absolutely! You can reheat Gluhwein on the stovetop over medium heat. Just make sure not to boil it.

Other Easy Winter Drinks You Might Like:

If you love to get cozy on the couch with a steaming mug of a delicious drink and a good Christmas movie, check out these hot drink recipes:

White Gluhwein in mugs garnished with anise stars and cinnamon sticks.

Gluhwein (German Mulled Wine) - 3 Ways

Gluhwein (German Mulled Wine) - 3 Ways

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Gluhwein is Christmas in a mug. You can make it with red or white wine or you can also make a non-alcoholic version with juice.

Ingredients

For the Red Gluhwein (Red Mulled Wine):

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (3-inch long)
  • 1 anise star
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or to taste, optional)

For the White Gluhwein (Mulled White Wine):

  • 1 bottle ( 750 ml ) white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3-inch long)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 anise star
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or to taste, optional)

For the Non-Alcoholic Gluewein (Alcohol-Free Mulled Wine):

  • 3 cups cranberry or pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 anise star
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (3-inch long)
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 orange
  • honey to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pour the liquids into a non-reactive saucepan. Add all the spices and start warming it up over medium heat.
  2. Cut off the outer layer of the orange skin of 1/2 of the orange. Make sure to only cut the orange part and not the white pith. Press out the juice from the whole orange.
  3. Add the orange peel to the saucepan. Strain the orange juice through are mesh strainer and add it to the saucepan as well.
  4. Keep warming up the mixture until it starts steaming and small bubbles start rising to the top. Reduce heat and keep heating it for another 5 minutes. Make sure that it doesn't boil.
  5. Turn off the heat. Add the honey to taste. Cover the saucepan and let it sit for about 45 minutes.
  6. Reheat before serving if needed.

Notes

1. Usually dry or semi-sweet wine is recommended. Always choose the wine you like to drink cold.

2. Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated for the red mulled wine.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 201Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 8.2mgCarbohydrates 15.9gFiber 0.1gSugar 10.6gProtein 0.3g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

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