A Little Something to Mull Over

The holiday season has kicked into high gear – the lights are up, Christmas music’s playing everywhere and Americans have gone into battle for the best bargains on Black Friday. And now that a dusting of snow covers my yard (ok maybe just a bit by the pond) I’m dreaming of sitting by the fire with a good book and something to keep me warm.

Generally that’s a nice glass of full-bodied red wine but because it’s the Christmas season my German heritage has me longing for a hot glass of gluhwein. Not only will this drink warm you up instantly but my Swiss husband swears it will fight off a cold on contact.

Just the smell of it on the stove brings back happy memories from Christmas’ past. Not only when I was a child but when my children were young we would heat up a batch to take with us on the ultimate hunt for the perfect tree.

One thermos for them containing hot chocolate, one with gluhwein for us and batch of sugar cookies was all we needed as we pulled the kids around the tree farm on their sleds for hours in search of the tree that would be the one we took home.  My kids are long grown so we don’t cut our own tree anymore but just the smell of the gluhwein makes me smile and remember those times.

No matter what you call it (My writing partner Lis is Swedish and they call it glogg, German’s call it gluhwein, the French call it vin epicee while North Americans call it mulled wine) the aroma is unmistakable with a hint of cinnamon and cloves.

Each cultural group has their own recipe and there are lots online to try but I’m going to share mine with you.  Since I’m not a big fan of cloves I don’t put them in but you might want to add them if you like it a bit more spicy.  DO NOT use a good bottle of red for this, anything cheap and cheerful will do since you’ll be diluting it with water, fresh lemon and orange juice.  One of the things you want to remember is not to cook the wine as this will evaporate the alcohol.

Ingredients (makes 4 cups) 2 cups water, 2 cups red wine – a cheap & cheerful Merlot or cab will do, ½ cup of sugar, juice from half an orange, juice from half a lemon and 1 cinnamon stick.

Pour water into a sauce pan, add sugar, cinnamon stick, the lemon and orange juice and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved take the pot off the burner and add in the red wine so it heats up but does not cook.

You’ll want to drink it while it’s nice and hot and of course what would a glass of gluhwein be if you didn’t serve it with some pfeffernusse cookies (spicy gingerbread) and chocolate.

Tell us about your holiday traditions and share a recipe that reminds you of good times spent with friends and family.