The festive season is upon us bringing with it Christmas markets, warm nights by the fire and rich, over-indulgent meals. Each year people across Europe consume vast amounts of Glühwein but what is it, where was it invented and more importantly - how do you make your own?
There is little else as warming on a cold winter evening than a steaming hot mug of Glühwein. You might also know it as mulled wine, spiced wine or Glogg. Traditionally it is the German drink that you can buy to keep you warm as you wander around the bustling German Christmas markets.
People have been consuming heated spiced wine as far back as the ancient Egyptians when the drink was an elixir for the afterlife. The Romans consumed hot wine during Saturnalia, the Roman festival to honour Saturn - the God of Time. They would drink 'conditum paradoxum'. This was hot red wine, honey, bay leaves,saffron, dates and, for good measure, an extra helping of white wine. A heady mix indeed.
In the Nordic countries Glogg, pronounced glurg, became prevalent in the sixteenth century. There the mix of wine, nuts, spices and vodka was used medicinally to help aching limbs. A dose of the spirit heavy drink would doubtlessly numb any physical pain you might be feeling. These days the drink is often served with sweet cakes and treats.
In England mulled wine is recorded as a popular winter drink in the medieval period. Cinnamon, marjoram, rosemary, cloves, pepper and nutmeg were ground together and added to hot red wine and sugar. In the UK mulled wine is still a popular festive drink however the German version is steadily becoming the favoured blend.
In Germany Glühwein which translates to 'glow wine' can be found at every Christmas market. It is likely to be served 'mit Schuss' which is the extra kick of a shot of rum or brandy. The name is said to come from the glowing hot irons that were used to mull the wine but it is more likely to be from the glow the drink gives your cheeks as you consume it.
One of the seasonal highlights of merrymaking at the Weihnachtsmärkte (German Christmas market) both in Germany and in the UK is the souvenir mug you can purchase to sip your wine from. They are adorned with the year, town or market where you enjoyed your Glühwein and are wonderful mementos to keep.
These days German Glühwein can be purchased from most supermarkets but it isn't as authentic or satisfying as making and sharing your own version.
Why not try stirring up a batch of your own using our favourite German Glühwein recipe?
What you'll need:
What to do:
Peel the lemon and orange. Reserve the orange juice.
Add the water, peels and orange juice to a pan and bring to the boil.
Add the cinnamon stick, sugar, cloves and a pinch of nutmeg.
Let the mixture simmer for up to an hour being careful not to let it boil dry.
Add ¼ of the bottle of wine and heat for half an hour. This will create a syrup infused with the wonderful flavours.
Add the rest of the wine and heat for a few minutes. If you heat it for longer the alcohol will begin to burn off.
Enjoy your quintessentially German drink from a mug with or without a shot of brandy added. Serve it piping hot along side a plate of Lebkuchen to spread a little German festive cheer with your friends and family.