Christmas time is not complete in Germany without drinking a glass of Glühwein, the traditional warm spiced mulled wine every merrymaker enjoy as they walk along the charming Christmas markets. But, what does exactly «Glühwein» means? And, more important, which are the ingredients?
«Glühwein» means «glowing wine» and, apparently, its name comes from the hot irons that were formerly used for mulling (these hot irons are not longer used).
Although the most common glühwein is made with red wine, some marketers also serve «Weißer Glühwein», which is made with white wine.
Glühwein is usually made with wine, which is heated up and spiced with Glühweingewürze (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, sugar and orange juice or lemon). Sometimes people add a shot of liquor. That kind of drink is known as Glühwein mit Schuss.
Another variant of Glühwein is the «Feuerzangenbowle» (Fire Tongue Bowl). The recipe is the same as for the «regular» Glühwein, but for this drink a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drip into the Glühwein.
A bit of history
The historic origins of Glühwein date back to when wine started going bad, but germans did not want to throw it, so they added some spices to drink it again.
The oldest documented Glühwein dates from 1420 and it is attributed to a German nobleman (Count John IV of Katzelnbogen), the first grower of Riesling grapes of the world.
Where you can find it?
As I previously mentioned, christmas time in Germany is not complete without drinking a glass of Glühwein at the christmas markets.
Glühwein is usually served in a limited edition ceramic mug. Inscribed on it you can find the name of the German city where you are, the current year and a christmas draw.
A glass of Glühwein costs around 3€ + Pfand (a small additional fee). If you want to keep the cute little mug as a souvenir of your visit to a particular Christmas market, you will lose the fee, if not they will give it back to you as soon as you return the mug.
How should you drink the Glühwein?
To be honest the purpose of drinking Glühwein is to warm people from the inside out, so I highly recommend you to drink it really warm. Once the Glühwein is cold it lose some of its charm and it can´t accomplish its main purpose. 😉
Furthermore, it is really common to drink a Glühwein while enjoying some traditional german specialities such as «Lebkuchen» (gingerbread), «Reibekuchen» (potato pancakes) or «Bratwurst» (sausage).
You still have time enough to enjoy this magic drink because the christmas markets are opened until the 23th of December, and they never run out of Glühwein ;).
If you are willing to visit any christmas in the NRW (Northe Rhine Westphalia) region in Germany click here to find more information about them.
Now it is your turn. Have you ever tried Glühwein? Which one do you preffer, red or white? Could you recommend a nice christmas market in Germany?