When the weather outside is frightful (or even when it's not), a number of warm drinks come to mind: a hot cup of coffee (with or without a splash of "something"), hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy cane melts or maybe a chai tea. But my favorite warm winter drink is definitely a mug of Glühwein (hot spiced mulled wine).
Having lived and traveled in Germany, I was introduced to Glühwein many years ago, and it continues to be a traditional beverage with my family. It was a nice way to warm up while exploring the market, after a nice walk or a day of skiing.
According to German tourism, the historic origins of Glühwein reportedly started by thrifty folks who did not want to throw out wine when it started going bad. So they added some honey and spices to make it drinkable again. Great idea. Thankfully Glühwein today is not made with wine gone bad!
Traditionally Glühwein is made from red wine, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, orange juice and sugar. Many Christmas markets also offer a white wine version or a non-alcoholic version for children that is similar to spiced apple or even peach cider.
Glühwein is available at many local supermarkets during the fall (not just in Europe but the US too), and at all the European Christmas markets from late November through Christmas. Glühwein is quite often served in limited edition, collectible ceramic mugs, designed specifically for the particular Christmas market, which makes for a nice memento of your visit.
The best Glühwein is made from scratch. Try your hand at it!
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