Meals of the Mundo: Gluhwein
The urge to start this post with a cheesy holiday cliche was nearly overpowering. There are so many to choose from! Should I go with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” Or maybe “Tis the season?” What about “Twas the night before…?” How ’bout I just make up my own! “Get me another latke and some slivovitz!” Now that’s a line that really speaks to me. In honor of the holiday season, I present to you… no, not slivovitz… gluhwein!
Gluhwein is a fancy word for hot mulled wine. Some of you – perhaps even many of you – have already tried this delectable concoction. The rest of you will make some after reading this post and the recipe below. Anytime you think to yourself, “I need a hot stew or bisque on this cold night,” you should immediately follow that up with, “And some gluhwein to drink with it.”
GLUHWEIN FOR EVERYONE!
Gluhwein is absolutely delicious. It warms the body. More than that, it warms the soul. Ok, it doesn’t warm the soul, but it’s really, really, really good. We drank lots of it about a year ago when we were in Vienna visiting the city’s gorgeous Christmas markets. I’d love to call them holiday markets, but there is absolutely nothing about them that resembles any other Judeo-Christian or non-Judeo-Christian religions.
Vienna is really friggin’ cold this time of year. That doesn’t deter the Austrians. They set up tables outside, pile blankets on a chair for everyone to grab, and sip hot gluhwein to stay warm. They even have a cool little area near one of their museums where people play a game that looks like shuffleboard on ice and hang out chatting near a bunch of different gluhwein stands.
Gluhwein has a delicious spiciness and sweetness to it, which comes from brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. You can water it down a bit to stretch your supply. Or you can mix in some brandy or rum to give it that extra zip that holiday parties sometimes need.
SUPER SIMPLE GLUHWEIN RECIPE
Ready to try your hand at making a batch? Here’s what you do.
Take a bottle of red wine – cabernet sauvignon or tempranillo or whatever you’d like really, but it doesn’t need to be expensive – and pour it into a pot. Fill the bottle up with water and pour that in too. Grab a cheesecloth and wrap up 10 cloves and 3 cinnamon sticks. Toss that in the pot too. Now add 1/2 a cup of brown sugar. Fire up the stove to low (or until the wine mixture barely simmers) and let it go for 45 minutes. Then toss in some brandy just for good measure.
This is, without a doubt, a very simple recipe. You can add all sorts of extras: orange peels, mint, cardamom, lemon peels. Or try a more complicated recipe. Whatever you want! If you don’t like the taste your experimentations have created, add more wine, more brown sugar, and keep going!