I’ve never really had any strong traditions during the holidays. I like turkey on Thanksgiving, fireworks on the 4th are great and a nice glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve is does make the night feel a little bit more special. But if I didn’t have any of these things, it would still be a holiday, wouldn’t it?
My wife, on the other hand, has very strong holiday traditions, especially around Christmas. Christmas in Germany is a big deal for families and for my wifes family in particular. Now that she lives here in the US, she is keen to keep up these traditions with our own family. Some I am not so excited about, like German Christmas cookies and celebrating Christmas the night of Christmas Eve. When Christmas morning rolls around, and all packages are open and celebrating has been concluded, I feel like some of the air has been taken out of the day.
But then there are some I really like, such as Christkindl markets and Glühwein. Glühwein is a warm German beverage made from red wine and treated with spices during colder months. There are many different versions of this mulled wine and many different cultures offer there own twist. As long as the weather isn’t too horrible, the markets are a great way to spend time with family and friends drinking Glühwein while traipsing through the trinket shops.
This year, we weren’t able to get to the markets for various reasons, but I missed the Glühwein, so I thought I would just make some at home. The addition of other liqueurs such as a Schnapps or brandy is common if you’re looking for a little more of a kick 😉
You can make this recipe ahead of time, chill it and reheat when you are ready to serve, although it’s much nicer to drink while the house is filled the warming aromas of the clove and cinnamon.
3 bottles red wine
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
5 whole cloves
Zest of 2 oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size sauce pan.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes, longer if you want to lower the alcohol content.
4. Remove fro heat and steep for 15-20 minutes.
5. Strain and serve or chill for serving later.