Glühwein (German Mulled Wine)

The Perfect Glühwein Recipe – From an Actual German!

Looking to celebrate the holiday season with a hot drink to sip on? Mulled wine – called Glühwein in German – might be for you!

Traditionally made with red wine, mulled wine is deliciously sweet, a little tart, and quite fragrant with just the right amount of spices like cinnamon and cloves.

This classic alcoholic beverage is a staple Christmas Market drink across Germany, Europe, and beyond. Over the last few years, mulled white wine has also become quite popular.

clear mug of mulled red wine with cinnamon stick sticking out sitting on wooden board with spices around.
A mug of German mulled wine ready for sipping!

With half of us being German – and having lived in Europe for years together – we have loads of experience with mulled wine.

We’ve been lucky enough to visit different German Christmas markets in numerous cities like Cologne, Aachen, Berlin, or Nuremberg.

That said, this German Christmas wine can also be found outside of Germany – we’ve had it in Prague and Edinburgh, too.

These days (back in North America), we’ve gotten into making it ourselves for family and friends and it’s always a hit.

Ingredients

ingredients for mulled wine on counter top with labels seen from above.
The ingredients you’ll need for mulled wine – some are optional.

To make this Glühwein recipe, here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Red wine – Use a dry red wine with a decent quality, but doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
  • Cinnamon sticks – Three cinnamon sticks to give the mulled wine its classic flavor.
  • Oranges – Use organic oranges because the orange slices will simmer in the pot. Alternatively, peel the orange first.
  • Cloves – Whole cloves to give the mulled wine its classic taste.
  • Sugar – You can add more or less sugar to taste to suit your personal preference.
  • Rum (optional) – Often an optional addition at Christmas markets.
  • Cardamom (optional) – Optional To add more flavor; don’t add too much since it can be quite fragrant and make sure the seeds are still closed.
  • Star anise (optional) – Can be tough to find but a great aaddition if you have it.

Recipe Tips

Before you rush to the wine cabinet to make this German mulled wine recipe, be sure to thoroughly read through these recipe tips so that you get the best festive outcome!

  • If you want to up the booze content, you can add extra alcohol like rum or brandy.
  • When it comes to choosing a red wine for mulled wine, we’d suggest a medium quality semi-dry to dry red wine because the flavor of the wine is what comes through in the drink regardless of how much sugar you add. You’ll taste very cheap wine – but don’t choose a high-end bottle either. When we make Glühwein a go-to for us is a Californian wine called “Smoking Loon” since we quite enjoy the taste. However, we’ve also made it with other red wines before and liked it just as much.
  • Feel free to use the spices that you have, but we would definitely recommend using oranges, cinnamon sticks, and cloves at least.
  • Try using organic oranges. This is because non-organic orange peels might have more pesticides or other chemicals in them. If you can’t or don’t want to buy organic oranges, peel them first.
  • The mulled wine needs enough time to absorb the spice flavors – at least an hour, so plan ahead and don’t try to rush it.
  • It’s important that the wine does not come to a boil. This would evaporate off some of the alcohol and change the strength/flavor of the drink.

How to Make Glühwein – Step by Step Instructions

Our recipe is for a classic German hot wine recipe made with red wine and classic spices.

You can follow along with the process photos to see exactly how we made it at each step in the recipe.

For the detailed, printable recipe card, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post!

orange cut into slices on wooden cutting board with knife beside and whole orange behind.
Slice the oranges.

Start by washing the oranges. Then cut them into slices. You can save a few slices for decoration.

pot full of red wine and spices sitting on white counter top.
Add the ingredients to a pot.

Next, add the wine, cinnamon sticks, orange slices, cloves, sugar, rum (optional), star anise (optional), and cardamom (optional) to a pot.

silver pot of german mulled wine on black stovetop.
Let the wine heat for one hour.

Put on the lid and heat the mixture on low heat for about one hour.

It’s important that the wine doesn’t come to a boil as this will evaporate the alcohol. Check on the wine occasionally and give it a stir.

silver pot sitting on wooden board with no lid filled with steaming red wine and spices and orange slices.
Add more sugar if desired.

After one hour, try the mulled wine and add more sugar to taste (optional).

You can pour the wine through a sifter before serving to capture the spices and orange slices.

Alternatively, just be careful when ladling the mulled wine out of the pot.

two mugs of mulled red wine on wooden board with spices around on white counter.
Our Glühwein is always full of orange slices and cinnamon!

You can serve the mulled wine with a couple of orange slices (fresh slices or the slices from inside the brewing pot) and a cinnamon stick in each mug for decoration. But this is definitely optional. Enjoy!

Storage Tips

If you have any leftover German mulled wine, it stores nicely in the fridge in the pot you simmered it in. Keep the oranges and spices in it but be sure to have a lid on it.

To reheat the mulled wine, you can put the pot back on the stove and reheat it on low heat until hot. Just remember not to boil the wine or else you’ll lose some of the alcohol content.

FAQ

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Glühwein.

What is Glühwein?

Glühwein is the German term for mulled wine. Mulled wine is a sweet alcoholic holiday beverage that is traditionally made from heated – but not boiled – red wine with different spices and citrus fruit like oranges. It is served hot and enjoyed at Christmas markets around Germany and abroad.

How to make Glühwein?

To make Glühwein, empty a bottle of red wine into a pot, add sugar and spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, and optional ones like cardamom and star anise. Heat everything for one hour on low heat but don’t bring it to a boil. Then add more sugar to taste and serve hot!

How to pronounce Glühwein?

“Glühwein” is hard to say as an English speaker because the “ü” is a sound not readily heard or pronounced. To get close enough, you could say “Glue” (like what you use on paper) and vine (like a vine of grapes). So, literally it’s Glue-vine… but the ü is much more drawn out.

Related Recipes

If you loved this wonderful Glühwein to sip on and serve, you can check out these other popular German holiday drinks – perfect for any gathering!

two clear mugs of mulled wine with cinnamon sticks sitting on wooden board.

German Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

This Glühwein – traditional German Mulled Wine – recipe is just like you'd find in Germany. Made with red wine, sugar, fragrant spices like cinnamon, and fresh fruit like oranges, this classic holiday drink is always a crowd pleaser and perfect to sip on to keep warm and festive!
4.60 from 22 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 3 glasses

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of dry red wine, 750 ml
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 organic oranges
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons rum, optional
  • 3 cardamom seeds, optional
  • 2 star anise, whole, optional

Instructions

  • Wash the oranges and cut them into slices. You can save a few slices for decoration.
  • Add the wine, cinnamon sticks, orange slices, cloves, sugar, rum (optional), star anise (optional), and cardamom (optional) to a pot. Put on the lid and heat the mixture on low heat for about one hour. It’s important that the wine doesn’t come to a boil as this will evaporate the alcohol. Check on the wine occasionally and give it a stir.
  • After one hour, try the mulled wine and add more sugar to taste (optional).
  • Pour the wine through a sifter before serving to capture the spices and orange slices.
  • Serve with the orange slice (fresh slices or the slices from inside the brewing pot) and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use different wines to make mulled wine. We would recommend a medium-quality dry red wine for this recipe. Don’t opt for the cheapest wine with lower quality – because you will taste the difference in quality. At the same time, don’t use a high end red wine, either.
  • We recommend buying organic oranges. This is because orange peels might have pesticides or other chemicals in them. Otherwise, peel the orange first.
  • It’s important that the wine does not come to a boil. This would evaporate off some of the alcohol and change the strength/flavor of the drink.
  • You can definitely add different spices to mulled wine (as we noted above). The ones we mentioned are just the most traditional ones.
  • You can also add additional alcohol (like rum or brandy) to the mulled wine. This is something you often see at Christmas Markets as an add-on to the “regular” mulled wine!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 21mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Drinks
Cuisine German
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