Cheers to winter’s answer to sangria.
Steeped in tradition (and spices), this glühwein (mulled wine) recipe makes a festive, spiced, lightly sweet beverage you’ll love cozying up to this fall and winter.
What Is Glühwein? Why is it called “Glow Wine”?
Glühwein is a warm, spiced mulled red wine of German origin, especially popular around the Christmas holiday. “Glühwein” directly translates to “glow wine” in English.
Reasons vary on glühwein’s name origins. Some posit that drinking this warming, festive mulled wine makes you “glow” with happiness and warmth. The Culture Trip has another idea about why this mulled red wine is called “glow wine.”
The site writes that the name “was derived from the red hot irons used to heat the wine across the Germanic cultures when the drink first became popular hundreds of years ago.”
They also note that documented glühwein drinking dates all the way back to 1420.
How to Pronounce Glühwein
Not fluent in German? No problem. Glühwein is pronounced GLOO-vine. But feel free to just call it mulled wine.
What’s the Difference Between a Glühwein and Mulled Wine Recipe?
Glühwein is mulled wine. You will find the biggest differences in mulled wines in the various recipes, but all usually involve a combination of red wine, winter spices, citrus, and maybe a little extra alcohol like orange liqueur.
How to Make Glühwein (Traditional German Mulled Wine)
Think of this spiced, warm mulled red wine as fall and winter’s answer to sangria. Recipe variations abound. Like sangria, there is no one “right” recipe.
The traditional method of making glühwein is to simmer together red table wine, spices like cloves and cinnamon, citrus, sugar, and maybe some vanilla or a glug of booze and drink warm.
So like all mulled wine recipes, this glühwein recipe is not complicated.
What Wine Is Best for Mulled Wine?
You will be simmering off some of the alcohol and incorporating a lot of other flavors to make mulled wine. So for the best mulled wine, choose a higher-alcohol, medium-bodied, dry red wine that won’t get lost amid the other ingredients.
Cabernet sauvignon is my top choice for glühwein mulled wine. Zinfandel and merlot are also great options.
No need to break the bank. Choose any decent, relatively inexpensive bottle — but one good enough where you would still drink it on it’s own. Low-quality wine also makes low-quality glühwein. (The same is true for cooking with red wine.)
What Liquor Can I Add to Mulled Wine?
If you want to add an extra splash of alcohol, best choices include:
- Orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau
How to Make Spiced Glühwein Mulled Wine: Recipe Steps
This recipe incorporates fresh apple cider into the mix to add both sweetness and some seasonal fruit flavor that complements the wine and spices.
- Simmer the apple cider with the star anise, bay leaf, cloves, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks until the cider is reduced by half. Steeping the spice and citrus with the cider lets the flavor infuse into the liquid without sacrificing the alcohol content.
- Add the red wine and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir and simmer on low (low is critical) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness, and add any additional liqueur or alcohol you like. Serve warm.
This recipe serves 4, using one bottle of wine, but is easily doubled.
Love festive holiday drinks and treats? You will also love:
Glühwein Spiced Mulled Wine
- 1 bottle (750 ml) medium- to full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot, or zinfandel
- 1 pint apple cider
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise, plus more to garnish (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- peel from one orange
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 glug liquor, such as brandy or Grand Marnier (optional)
- orange slices, to garnish (optional)
- In a medium pot, gently boil the apple cider with the cloves, anise, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel until the apple cider is reduced by half, about 7 minutes, give or take. PRO TIP: Simmering the spices and citrus with the cider concentrates the apple's sweetness and lets the spices steep and infuse in the liquid without reducing the alcohol content of the wine.
- Add the wine and sugar. Bring to a low simmer and let steep at a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice along the way.
- Add the additional liquor, if using. Taste for sweetness. Serve in mugs, garnished with some orange slices, star anise, or a cinnamon stick, if desired.