It’s time for a mug of smoldering wine

Every year around Christmas, Germans start enjoying Glühwein, a kind of mulled wine that dates back to Roman times.

Glühwein origin story

Spiced wine dates to at least the 2nd century CE, when the Romans heated wine and added herbs.

In Germany, the first Glühwein tankard dates to the early 15th century, but mulled wine undoubtedly was in Germany long before then.

For the last 600 years, those early Glühwein recipes have remained mostly unchanged. Red wine is heated with cinnamon sticks, sugar, citrus, cloves, and star anise. For an extra punch, a shot of rum is sometimes added.

Where to get Glühwein

Photo: Brent Petersen

Glühwein is traditionally served at Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) held each December throughout Germany. For a couple euros (plus a small deposit for the mug), you get a ceramic mug filled with Glühwein.

Since the Christmas Markets are held outdoors in December, the Glühwein is a great way to keep warm. And, I’m sure the alcohol loosens up the purse strings, making the vendors at the market happy.

Glühwein is also served at shops in Germany. I’ve seen stainless steel canisters set up on card tables on the street. You fill up your cup and the merchant trusts you to leave a couple euros.

Due to Glühwein’s popularity, wine shops in the U.S. are carrying it as well. But, it’s more fun and very easy to make your own Glühwein. And, it’ll make your house smell divine.

Glühwein recipe

This recipe is super easy. You can keep it on the stove for several hours as long as the flame isn’t too hot and the wine doesn’t evaporate.


Take 1/4 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of water and bring to boil until the sugar fully dissolves.

Lower the flame to low and add 1 bottle of red wine, the peel of one orange, 10-15 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 2 star anise. Be sure not to boil the wine.

Bring the mixture barely to a simmer and then lower the flame further.

Your Glühwein is ready to serve. Ladle into mugs and add a shot of rum, if desired.

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, PortoSintraMonsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Author: Brent