German Spiced Wine Recipes

Petra’s Glühwein (German Spiced Wine)

This month’s recipe comes from our Vice President of Flavor & Innovation, Petra Baker!  Read on for several of Petra’s delicious Glühwein recipes, as well as flavor history and holiday stories from her home country of Germany.  Thank you Petra, for sharing this delicious beverage with us, just in time for the holidays!   

Glühwein (pronounced “gloo-vyne”) is a traditional German and Austrian spiced wine that uses a variety of warming spices you’re likely to have on hand this time of year: cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, just to name a few – although as you’ll see, the recipes for Glühwein vary greatly and are as unique as the families and regions they stem from. “Glühwein” translates roughly to “smoldering wine;” it can be served piping hot or gently warmed, and is perfect for a cozy night at home or for sharing with a crowd. 

Spiced Wine
Spiced wines are a blast from the past – and are still a blast today!

In Germany, the Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) are set up at the beginning of advent, heralding the season of candlelight, lit trees, and luckily, also the season of spiced wines. Besides enjoying the spirits with friends and family around the market, my loved ones and I would often meet on the weekends to share food, stories, and each other’s spiced wines.

Bielefeld Weihnachtsmarkte Image
Images of Bielefeld Weihnachtsmärkte, courtesy of Bielefeld Marketing GmbH and photographed by Sarah Jonek

Spiced wine recipes are like potato salad recipes in Germany; each family has their own recipe, and each region gives them an additional twist. Every recipe is unique.  You can create your own for your family, as well as buy some really nice versions that are premade and bottled.  

“Spiced wine recipes are like potato salad recipes in Germany; each family has their own recipe, and each region gives them an additional twist. Every recipe is unique.  You can create your own for your family, as well as buy some really nice versions that are premade and bottled.”

– Petra Baker

I would like to share with you the spiced wines we enjoyed in my mom’s home, my grandmother’s, and in the homes of my both aunties to show you some of the variety. There are many more recipes my friends made or we tasted on the Christmas markets we visited! Every time I make spiced wine here in the US now, I think of all the good times we had, the stories, and the memories we shared. 

Gluhwein
In Germany, Glühwein is traditionally stewed over an open flame – fun and festive on those cold December nights!

The red spiced wines you’ll find all over Europe are known as mulled wine, while the white spiced wines found more often in north to middle Germany and northern Europe are known as gloegg. These recipes traveled with immigrants to South and North America and the rest of the world. Travelers have enjoyed them for centuries, using them as a way to warm themselves up and to prevent the cold, and they were often served before any other foods or beverages by hosts, hostels, or taverns.      

“Travelers have enjoyed them for centuries, using them as a way to warm themselves up and to prevent the cold. They were often served before any other foods or beverages by hosts, hostels, or taverns.”

– Petra Baker

Recipes for Glühwein can be traced as far back as 2nd century Rome. The famed Roman gourmet Apicius had a recipe for “Conditum Paradoxum” in his cookbook, which translates roughly to “paradox spiced wine”. The spiced wine was made with black peppercorns, mastic gum, bay leaf, saffron, and honey and became popular in Israel. More modern versions were made later with retsina wine and honey.  

I hope you’ll enjoy my family’s takes on spiced wines! 

Red Spiced Wine

Roter Glühwein (Red Spiced Wine)

  • 1 750ml bottle of Pinot Noir
  • 2 oranges (organic)
  • 1 lemon (organic)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or honey
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods

Three additions from my grandmother and my both aunts:

  • 3 allspice seeds (whole) 
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 shot glass (or more) of amaretto 

Use a small high-sided saucepan with a lid (because I’m sure you do not have the traditional cauldron and fire pit). Heat the red wine slowly with the lid on, but be sure not to let it boil or start to boil, or it could become bitter. If you’re outside, you can also use your BBQ or campfire. 

In the meantime, zest 1 orange and the lemon and juice them. Slice the other orange and keep one half for the wine and the other for garnish.  

Add the juice, zest, spices, sugar/honey, and half of the sliced orange to the hot wine and steep for 20 – 30 minutes with the lid on at low heat. 

If you add the vanilla bean, make sure to slice the pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds out, adding both pod and seeds to the wine.

Serve strained or as is, and garnish each glass rim with an orange quarter. 

If you’d like to keep the wine hot over a longer period, strain the wine and transfer it to a thermos or keep it in the saucepan on very low heat with the lid on. Straining out the spices will help prevent the wine from becoming too bitter.  

Alcohol-Free Variation

You can substitute tart cherry juice for the red wine and omit the amaretto to create a spiced punch without the spirits.  This is a great option for kids and anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol. 

White Spiced Wine

Weisser Glühwein, which some call Punsch (White Spiced Wine or “Punch”)

  • 1 bottle of white wine (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, or Silvaner) 
  • 8 to 10 oz filtered apple juice 
  • 1 lemon (organic)
  • 1 clementine or tangerine
  • 1 teaspoon ground fresh ginger or ginger powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons white rock candy or regular sugar 

Various additions from my grandmother and my both aunts:

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise (whole)
  • 2 allspice seeds (whole) 
  • 1 shot glass (or more) of orange liquor (Cointreau) or rum 

Use a small high-sided saucepan with a lid. Heat the white wine slowly with the lid on, but be sure not to let it boil or start to boil, or it could become bitter. If you’re outside, you can also use your BBQ or campfire.

In the meantime, zest 1 lemon and juice it; juice the clementine or tangerine. 

Add the juices, zest, spices, and sugar to the hot wine and steep for 20 – 30 minutes with the lid on at low heat. 

If you’d like to keep the wine hot over a longer period, strain the wine and transfer it to a thermos or keep it in the saucepan on very low heat with the lid on. Straining out the spices will help prevent the wine from becoming too bitter.   

Alcohol-Free Variation

You can substitute pear or apple juice for the white wine and omit the orange liquor or rum to create a spiced punch without the spirits.  This is a great option for kids and anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol. 

Feuerzangenbowle

Feuerzangenbowle (Fire Tong Punch) 

I’ve only enjoyed this at my grandmother’s house, because she was very capable of managing open fire (most of her life was spent cooking with a coal and wood-burning stove). 

Be careful and mindful with this recipe – and don’t come after my grandmother if you’re not experienced with handling fire and set off the fire alarm! 

WARNING: For safety’s sake, it is best to perform this outdoors in a clear open area, away from brush and with a fire blanket or fire extinguisher handy.  Should you bravely choose to light the punch indoors, we recommend removing your tablecloth and having a fire blanket and fire extinguisher handy.  You should NEVER use the rum bottle to pour the rum over the burning sugar cone because of the risk of a darting flame (see picture and you’ll see why!).

Woman Pouring Wine Over Flame
Pouring the rum from the bottle can lead to darting flames, as seen here, and is very dangerous – that is why you should always pour small amounts from a soup ladle!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bottles of Pinot Noir
  • 3 oranges (organic) or 500 ml of orange juice (alternative for the lazy people)
  • 1 lemon (organic)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 350 ml rum (minimum 108 proof)
  • 1 sugar cone (white sugar)

Utensils:

A Dutch Oven, a fire tong, a sugar cone holder, and a teapot warmer (electric, no open flame). Or, you may purchase a fire tong punch set online. 

Heat the wine slowly in the Dutch oven with the lid on, avoiding boiling, which can make it bitter. 

Slice one orange and juice the other 2 oranges (alternatively use orange juice, but it’s less fun). Zest the lemon and then juice it. 

Add the juices, zest, and spices to the hot wine and steep for 20 – 30 Minutes. Some recipes call for taking it off the heat and steeping it for 2 hours, then reheating it, but this creates more bitter notes.  

You can sieve the mixture at this point, or continue as is and start the next step together with your friends and family for the atmosphere and excitement.

Place the Dutch oven on a tea warmer (electric, no open flame) to keep the wine warm (but don’t allow it to get too hot or boiling) and place the fire tong over the pot. 

Set the sugar cone on the fire tong and pour a little rum over it using a large soup ladle. Slowly soak the sugar cone with rum, and then ignite it using a very long match. Alternatively, you can pour a little rum in the large soup ladle and ignite it with a long match, then pour the burning rum over the sugar cone. Make sure to keep your hand steady and take care not to spill the burning rum and set the table or tablecloth on fire! 

Pour small amounts of rum over the burning cone with the soup ladle every time the flame starts to get low. Avoid adding large amounts of rum and never use the rum bottle to pour on the cone directly because of the risk of darting flames. 

The Feuerzangenbowle is ready when you’ve used 350 ml of rum; there will be some sugar cone left over. Taste the wine, to make sure it is sweet enough for your taste.

Mix the punch and serve as is or strain it first. The caramelized sugar gives the Fire Tong Punch its distinct taste. Enjoy and think of all the fun we had as kids watching this spectacle!

Here are some other spices I’ve tried in spiced wines that are fun to play with: 

  • Black Peppercorns
  • Pink Peppercorns
  • Nutmeg
  • Hibiscus Flowers
  • Bay Leaves
  • Anise Seed
  • Fennel Seed
  • Juniper Berries

“The caramelized sugar gives the Fire Tong Punch its distinct taste. Enjoy and think of all the fun we had as kids watching this spectacle!”

– Petra Baker
Spiced Wine Ginger Bread

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