This Week’s Recipe: Gluhwein

It’s going to be almost 90° here* this weekend but I have faith that cooler temps are close behind. And for that reason I’m going to go ahead and share a hot wine drink recipe. This is perfect around a fire pit or under the stars and can easily be made.

Cold Temps Hot Drinks!

One of my and Kris’ favorite spots is The Equinox in Manchester, VT. We actually ditched the idea of honeymooning in South America or Europe to stay at the Charles Orvis Inn, a set of a few apartment-style suites separate from the main house at The Equinox. Nearly every night included walking over to the main house to enjoy wine and cheese around their gorgeous fire pit, a place we love taking visitors during the colder weather. The only thing that would make the Equinox fire pit better? Some hot gluhwein.Hot wine drinks by the fire pit? Why not?

The Best Basic Gluhwein Recipe

Back in 2014 when I started writing about wine, I was asked to write about Gluhwein, the Sangria of cold places (not really). It catapulted me into the obsession of drink crafting. I love playing with a good punch to come up with seasonal flavor combinations especially because pitcher drinks make entertaining so much easier. As always, this post breaks down the parts, gives you a standard recipe, and then encourages you to go have some fun with your own pitchers of Gluhwein.mulled-wine-photographer-2178648_1280

Who Drinks Gluhwein?

Despite the name invoking the horrible taste in your mouth after being tricked into eating paste as a child (no? just me?) glow wine is delicious. You’ll find it everywhere in places like Germany and Austria. Other German-speaking places including the Alsace region of France, some villages in Italy and even Brazil are known to drink the hot, fruity, spicy concoction.

The Basic Parts

Wine

Go with a dry red as the base for your punch. This is a great drink to make post party when you have a few mostly-drunk bottles lying around.

Spice

Be gentle when you spice but spice it up: spice is kind of the point of mulled wine, after all. Using too much, or too many kinds, can take away from the complexity.

Fruit

Citrus is the traditional addition so start with lemon and oranges. When you start experimenting reach for the pomegranate.

Sweetener

Forget that many recipes say this is optional and be sure to sweeten, especially when using dry wine and acidic citrus. You can use regular sugar here instead of making simple syrup since you’re working with a hot beverage and that means easy mixing.

A note on sweeteners…

If you’ve read my other recipes you have probably figured out that I am anti chemically produced sweeteners (especially Splenda, I’ll save you the gory details but sucralose can do awful things to a woman’s digestive system). I’m also not a fan of Stevia because the last time I tried it it was insanely bitter. Times have changed, though, and I’m finding myself using Zing, a plant-based sweetener.

That said, I still find things like maple syrup, molasses and honey to be the most interesting sweeteners.

Brandy

See, it really is the Sangria of winter! Brandy gives gluhwein a nice, boozy tone and rounds out the flavors.spices-1914130_1280.jpg

The Starter Recipe

Equipment:

  • Large saucepan
  • Vegetable or fruit peeler
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cooking twine (or knot the cheesecloth if you’re skilled like that)

Ingredients

Process

2 each: lemons, limes, bottles of dry red wine
10 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
5 pods cardamom
1 1/4 cups sugar (or equivalent in swtnr)
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups water
  • Peel the fruit’s zest in wide strips. Avoid as much pith (the white stuff) as possible.
  • Juice the fruit.
  • Place the cardamom and cloves in the cheesecloth and tie off tightly.
  • Place all ingredients except for the wine and brandy in the saucepan. Turn heat to high and stir constantly to melt the sugar.
  • When sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to simmer, reduce heat as low as possible (maintaining simmer).
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until reduced by 1/3.
  • Add the wine and brandy and stir. Bring to just a simmer (do not allow to boil). Remove from heat.
  • Take out cheesecloth just before serving.

Notes On Experimentation

  • You can make gluhwein with white wine but avoid acidic whites or they will be undrinkable. Honey will help balance white gluhwein and oaked whites are also a better option than those from stainless.
  • If you make white gluhwein, try adding fresh or candied ginger (and cut the sweetener a little).
  • Try adding flavored brandy (apple is a favorite) to your red or white gluwein.
  • Other spices that work with red gluhwein are nutmeg and vanilla. Anise also works but go easy.

*here = Southern VT. Where it should not be anywhere near 90° in late September.

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