When I was in my early 20’s, and a very young mom, we moved to Germany. My husband had taken the opportunity to go there and open a new office. So, unlike other folks with the military or large companies, we didn’t have a huge amount of support getting started. A neighbor introduced me to an English speaking playgroup right away. The playgroup was a life saver. It was the place to ask questions, and get help for living in a foreign country. The women there were from all over the world, and we made a point to have Mom Gatherings on a regular basis. The first of these was just a couple of months after we moved to Germany. Sue, a Canadian who was married to a local German man, brought the Glühwein.
The Origins of this Glühwein Recipe
Sue’s husband was from the Black Forest region of Germany. This recipe is one that his family had been drinking for as long as they could remember. It is a very simple recipe, and takes just a few minutes to prepare.
Use any wine that you prefer. It doesn’t have to be a red. It certainly shouldn’t be expensive. Since you mix the wine, in equal parts, with apple cider, you are completely changing the flavors. This is a great way to use up that bottle someone gave to you, that you don’t really want to drink as is.
I prefer an unfiltered, tart apple cider. An unfiltered apple cider has a more complexity of flavors, and brings more than just sweet to the pot. If you can’t find any, or don’t care for it, use apple juice.
The original recipe given to me, called for 1/2 cup of honey. I have found that you should really taste the wine and apple cider mixture before adding honey. If you are using a white or rose wine, they are already a little sweet. A dark, dry red might need a little more honey.
I like to add in a whole cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves and a whole star anise. If you have a whole “Mulling Spice” mixture, you can use that. I would not recommend a powdered spice mixture, especially if they contain extra sugar.
A couple of round slices of lemon and orange make a beautiful presentation. They also provide a little bit of balancing flavor to the cider and honey.
Every Christmas Market in Germany has Glühwein vendors. They actually serve it in little ceramic cups, in different shapes, sizes and colors. You pay a deposit on the cup, and if you return it you get your money back. I’ve saved a few cups from our journeys, and every Christmas, we bring them out.
It is so much fun to wander around the stalls, with a warm cup of cheer in your hands. The first Christmas Market we went to was awe inspiring. It was in Stuttgart, and was huge. The kids got to ride some small carnival rides, all bundled up in their winter clothes. Rosy cheeks and cheesy grins made the evening.
The market was filled with vendors selling linens, ornaments, wood carvings, toys, sweaters, mittens and hats. I can almost smell the cinnamon toasted almonds and bratwurst being sold on every corner. It was an absolute feast for the senses.
I hope that your holidays are warm, and full of delightful memories. Cheers!