Warm up from the inside out with this cozy homemade Glühwein recipe. Learn how to make a simple German mulled wine that is perfect for cold winter nights or holiday gatherings and guaranteed to make your home smell absolutely amazing!
- 1 orange
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup honey, cane sugar or brown sugar (or to taste)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine (see notes)
- Optional shot: rum, amaretto, brandy, whisky or Grand Marnier
- Optional garnish ideas: orange slices, lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise
- Prep citrus: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange and lemon in wide strips. Just the orange and yellow part – avoid peeling the pith (white part) as much as possible since it can infuse a bitter taste. Juice the orange and lemon and set the juice aside.
- Simmer spiced mixture: In a large saucepan, bring the water and sweetener of choice to a boil until dissolved. Lower the heat to a simmer. Add the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise, orange and lemon zest and juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Tip: Pierce the cloves into the strips of orange or lemon zest for easier removal later.
- Add wine and steep: Reduce the heat to very low. Add the red wine, cover with a lid and steep for another 5-10 minutes. It should be steaming but don’t allow it to fully simmer or boil! You can check the temperature with a thermometer if unsure – it should be kept below 172F / 78C or the alcohol will evaporate.
- Strain and serve: Strain or pull out the spices and citrus zest and ladle into small mugs or heatproof glasses. For a stronger drink, add a shot before serving. This is known as Glühwein mit Schuss. Garnish if desired and enjoy!
- Dry red wine: Use a dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Chianti, Zinfandel or Malbec. No need to splurge on a pricey bottle but choose something decent that you would want to sip on.
- Always use whole spices! Don’t use ground ones since they will make the Glühwein cloudy and gritty. Whole spices infuse the wine with flavor and then are easy to strain or fish out.
- DO NOT let the wine boil! Use low gentle heat or you will cook off the alcohol and change the flavor of the wine.
- Don’t overcook the spices! If making ahead of time, strain the spices out after the recommended steeping time and keep warm until ready to serve. Leaving the spices in for too long will cause them to overpower the flavor of the wine.
- Keeping it warm: There are a few ways to keep the mulled wine warm if you are not serving it right away. Once it has been strained, you can put it back in a clean pot on the stove over very low heat or transfer to an Instant Pot or slow cooker on the “Keep Warm” setting. This will keep the Glühwein nice and warm until you are ready to serve.
- Cheesecloth option: You can bundle the citrus zest and spices in cheesecloth for easy removal later instead of straining or fishing out individually.