I remember we were in Germany one December. That was when we still didn’t think twice about travelling and flying. Somewhere on a square in a German city. It was bitterly cold. But that smell …. it was amazing. Oranges, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and wine. Warm and comforting. Yes, glühwein, the perfect drink to warm you in the cold.
Alas, with Covid-19 still very much around us as we near the end of 2020, we will surely be celebrating Christmas so much differently this year. We can’t visit Christmas markets in Germany, we can’t celebrate with great groups of people, singing and enjoying beautiful Carols. And if this is the price to pay to keep vulnerable people healthy, then it is actually a small one to pay. If we keep safe this year, the chances are we might be able to celebrate a more normal Christmas next year.
Glühwein is similar to mulled wine, to spiced wine and to glőgg. Apparently, the name – glühwein – originated from the red hot irons used to heat the wine when the drink first became popular some hundreds of years ago. But where it really originated from, no one is exactly sure anymore.
Since long ago similar kinds of drinks were made by the Greeks and the Romans. People drink this in Scandinavia, Turkey, Italy, France, the Netherlands (where it is known as Bisschopswijn), the Nordic countries where it is known as glőgg, Great Britain where it is known as mulled wine, Brazil; perhaps the world over people drink some kind of version of glühwein, using different spices and slightly different methods to make it .
Whatever your version of glühwein, make sure it warms you. When all those spices permeate through the whole house it gives this beautiful smell of Christmas. It is just wonderful.
Make your own
To help you celebrate Christmas with a bit of glühwein, here is a recipe. I got this from a German friend, Meta, whom I worked with some years ago. Yes, these days it is possible to just buy the spices in a sachet. Making your own though, will definitely bring more pleasure, because you modify the amounts of spices and sugar according to your taste, you make it exactly the way you like it …. Remember there isn’t a right or wrong amount or type of spices, it is really how you like the taste.
Oh, and don’t use the most expensive wine. Save that for another special evening.
1 bottle of Red wine
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks (depending on the thickness)
8 – 10 whole cloves
1 star anise
Juice from two oranges
Peel from one orange
100 gram white or brown sugar (you can use more or less depending on how sweet you want it).
- Warm everything together on the stove on a very low heat, for as long as you need to. Be careful not to boil it because the alcohol will evaporate and the sugar might burn, which means you’ll have to start over again.
Enjoy and a Merry Christmas to you all.