This month, I will take a brief respite from writing about beer. To write about WINE! Specifically, my favorite mulled wine: glühwein.
I first had this at a German bar in Manhattan (Lorelei), but it’s a German Christmas tradition that you can find this time of year in any vaguely German-themed restaurant or Winter festival. The Germans didn’t invent mulled wine, and there are lots of wonderful versions. However, this one tastes like winter to me, and so I share it with you here.
The word “glühwein” translates loosely as “glow wine,” which is supposedly derived from the glowing hot irons they used to heat it. That’s such an awesome visual - a glowing red vat of hot wine - that I’m always tempted to try to heat it the traditional way. But the name could just as well refer to your face after a mug or two of this stuff. It’s strong, but not too strong, so it’s tempting to drink the whole batch and walk around your house glowing from ear to ear. And your whole house smells of spice, wine, brandy and citrus, which is a total bonus. It’s like potpourri you can drink!
Years ago, I dug around on the futureweb and found a slew of recipes. I tried a bunch, and this is what I’ve settled on.
1.5 Liters cheap but quaffable red wine
3/4 Cup brandy
1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
a big pinch allspice
a big pinch mace
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1. Heat the wine in a large pot over medium-low heat
2. When the wine starts to get warm, add the sugar and spices and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the brandy and heat thoroughly, but DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL (just watch until it starts steaming and touch it with a clean pinky to check the temperature)
4. Add the orange and lemon, drop the heat to low and let it steep for an hour or so
Either ladle it directly from the pot (my preferred method), or pour it through a strainer into a carafe or serving pitcher (for hosting).
Make this for your party this New Year’s Eve. Your guests will glow, and you can act like it’s cold outside. Or, just make a batch for yourself in a thermos and sneak it into your fourth viewing of Star Wars. Whatever. Live the dream.