Tuesday, December 8, 2009

German Gluhwein

Many years ago my husband and I celebrated Christmas in Germany. While we were strolling through the Marienplatz in Munich at the Christmas Market, known as Christkindlmarkt, we noticed that everyone seemed to be drinking a warm wine from cups. My husband asked a gentleman, in his best German, “Was ist das?” or what is that.

Gluhwein,” the man answered, except to our ears it sounded like “glue-something.” Not easily intimidated, my husband asked other passersby, hoping we could understand what they were saying. It continued to sound like glue, so he finally went up to a street vendor selling this glue-sounding drink, mumbled his best pronunciation and pointed to people that were drinking it. We were served a delicious warm drink that we later learned was Gluhwein.

The easiest way to make Gluhwein is to buy the German spice bags, which we brought home with us from that trip, and heat them in red wine. However, that was many years ago and I’ve run out of my stash of spice bags. Fortunately we don’t live very far from Helen, a lovely German town in north Georgia, and it’s worth a trip there to get them. If you can’t find the bags, here is our version of the mulled wine.

German Gluhwein
This recipe was translated by a friend from a German cookbook, written, of course, in German.

1 cup water
½ to ¾ cup of sugar, depending on your taste
1 quart of red wine, such as a Merlot or Shiraz
1 stick of cinnamon
4 lemon slices, plus more for garnish if you wish
4 cloves

Make sugar syrup by heating the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick, lemon slices and cloves and serve warm. Garnish with fresh lemon slices if you wish. Serves 4.

Be sure to check out Cathy's Gluhwein at Wives with Knives. We both love Gluhwein and her photographs, as well as her blog, are gorgeous. She was able to purchase Ghuhwein at a Holiday market at a German American School. She lives in Oregon and German stores and deli's there also have it, so keep an eye out if you don't want to make your own.

Portions of this post were taken from the Archives.


  1. Sam, This looks like a wonderful warming and welcoming drink. Thanks for the recipe

  2. Now, that is certain to bring holiday cheer into our hearts.

    Sam, I have a tiny request. I would like you to participate in a little post I want to do for Christmas, but want to keep it "off-the-record" until it's "unwrapped". For that reason, if you would be so kind, please e-mail me and I'll explain. tishjett@yahoo.com

    Merci par avance.


  3. oh what a great holiday drink and your right ask the locals and get you one!!! love it

  4. It sounds quite tasty, Sam. I will try this version.

    I've always wanted to go to Helen. Do you like it?

  5. Wonderful gluhwein! Her in france we just call it vin chaud and on christmas eve, it is tradition that our eldest see to it...I'll have to show her your recipe for a change in flavour!

  6. It sounds so warming and tasty! My husband told me about Gluhwein, he had lots of it when he was working in Germany but I actually have not had it, definitely need to try!

  7. Sam,
    This sounds like a wonderful, warm, and refreshing drink for Christmas. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  8. We hosted a wine tasting once, and I was introduced to this by my lovely neighbor who was French/German, Rita... I enjoyed it, and you have presented it so beautifully in that stemless wine glass! A toast ching ching...

  9. Mulled wine is so perfect for this time of year to warm our hearts and spirits.

  10. I have many wonderful memories of sipping warm gluhwein while browing through the Christmas markets in Germany. Gluhwein is the perfect drink when it is freezing cold outside.

    Many thanks for the link, Sam.

  11. Sam-I've always heard of mulled wine-but never had any.

  12. Oh, Sam, what a great description of Gluhwein! We're off today to the Christmas market in Aachen (unless it rains AGAIN), and there will be plenty of Gluhwein around. It's the perfect thing for a coooollld day. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Drinking gluhwein at the Christkindl Markt in the Marienplatz was a highlight of our Christmas for many years when we lived in Bavaria. Afterwards we would make our way over to the Rathaus and visit the "krippe".
    Thank you for reminding me of wonderful times.

  14. I never use the store-bought spice bags, I very much prefer my own mix, wrapped in a square of cheesecloth: Cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and a few allspice berries.

    Vienna is alive late afternoons and evenings with people gathering outdoors, drinking Glühwein. Amazing how they don't care about the cold!

  15. This drink will get you into the Christmas spirit!

  16. Gluhwein is wonderful. I must try your recipe. I can't think of anything better in the evening during this cold, wet, foggy season!


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