Mulled Wine: The Most Popular Drink at German Christmas Markets

gluehwein (mulled wine), a popular holiday drink in GermanyI had only vaguely heard of mulled wine (Glühwein in German) while living in Canada and I associated it as a drink that only old people drink.

Then I moved to Germany and everything changed.  Mulled wine is the most popular holiday drink at German Christmas Markets.

gluehwein (mulled wine), a popular holiday drink at German Christmas markets

Some people collect the various Gluewein mugs from the various German Christmas Markets.

It’s red wine served warm with a dash of cinnamon, cloves, orange and sugar added.  Social events revolve around Glühwein during the holiday season.  Friends bundle up and catch up over a mug of Glühwein at one of the many Glühwein stalls found at My Favorite 3 Christmas Markets in Munich or My Favorite European Christmas Markets.

The German Christmas Markets just started last week and I’ve already lost track of the number of Glühweins I’ve consumed, although never more than one or two at a time.  Glühwein is to be consumed slowly and the intense flavors savoured.  It was not a love at first taste for me and Glühwein, I found it assaulted my tastebuds, but with one Glühwein season under my belt, I have acquired a taste for it.  Just don’t ask me choose between Glühwein and a Starbuck’s Gingerbread Latte.

Check out my new book, Bavaria’s Top Castles and Christmas Markets, now available on Kindle for just €2.99.

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guide to castles and Christmas markets in Bavaria, Germany

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.


  1. fotoeins | Henry December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Mmmmm, mullllled wine … on a cold crisp evening, the first cup cuts the cold nicely – the second cup is the up-and-down tingle – the third cup pretty much puts me down …

    I didn’t realize there were so many flavours of mulled wine; I finally tried a blueberry version in Frankfurt am Main’s Römerberg last Christmas. LECKER.

    I *was* about to ask if you had to choose (between the Glühwein or the Gingerbread latté), but I guess I’m not going to ask. 🙂

    Thanks, Laurel!

  2. Laurel December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am - Reply

    @Henry – Your experience sounds very similar to mine :). I love the blueberry version, but my German friends are quick to point out that it’s not “real” Glühwein, since it’s flavored. I’m afraid my answer to Glühwein vs a Gingerbread latte would get me in trouble, so I’m staying quiet 🙂

  3. Adrian B. December 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I’m a big fan of mulled wine as this is a winter holidays tradition in my home country, Romania (we call it “vin fiert” here, which translates to “boiled wine”), but didn’t know they have it in Germany too.

  4. Durant Imboden December 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I’m not a big fan of Glühwein, but I will concede that it’s palatable and warming when you’re outdoors on a chilly December evening.

    Mind you, not all Glühwein is German, even in Germany. When I was in Lübeck a few years ago during the Christmas season, a number of Glühwein vendors were advertising their “Swedish recipes” to attract vacationers who’d arrived by ferry from Sweden.

  5. Laurel December 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    @Adrian – I had no idea you had mulled wine in Romania, thanks for sharing. It really does warm you up when it’s cold outside.

  6. mivvy December 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Mulled wine, bisschopswijn in Dutch, my favourite Christmas drink. It is interesting to see that almost all European countries have their own recipe. This is the Dutch way to make it
    Wash and dry one lemon andone orange. Insert 10 cloves into each. Put the wine, sugar, lemon, orange and cinnamon and mace and saffron into a pan. Cover and bring slowy to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow the wine to simmer for approximately 1 hour. Remove the spices and the fruit. Heat the wine again, but do not let it boil.

  7. Sabrina December 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Yummy! I like Gluehwein a lot… but it really only tastes good when it’s really cold outside and when the Gluehwein is nice and hot. Once it’s cooled down it tends to taste like cheap Sangria 🙂

  8. Laurel December 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    @Durant – I wasn’t a big fan of Glühwein at first either, but it’s grown on me. I’ve seen the Swedish Glühwein at several Christmas Markets but will have to try it. It would be interesting to see how different it tastes.

    @Mivvy – Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I’ll have to try making this. It sounds like it would taste a lot different than German Glühwein with the mace and saffron.

    @Sabrina – Agreed, I can’t drink it when it’s cooled down either :). Hope you’re able to make some Glühwein in Texas, or at least wait until you come back to Germany for the holidays.

  9. Sabrina December 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Both 🙂 We will have Gluehwein with friends for the Carol of Lights (when Christmas lights on campus are turned on) and then lots with family and friends in Cologne – until I am so fed up with it that I don’t want any until next year 🙂

  10. Christine December 3, 2011 at 1:59 am - Reply

    My German penpal sent me a book in German of a recipe or two. I may try it after I translate it. Mivvy’s sounds interesting too.

    I have never had it.

  11. WineLover December 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Does the quality of the wine used matter very much? It seems that the mulling process would hide much of the natural flavors inherent in a fine wine. In other words, can I get by with a cheap wine?

    • Rasto January 30, 2012 at 1:13 am - Reply

      The quality of wine matters, yes. You simply should not use the better one because of spices you put in. Good quality wine is too “strong” and the result is not according to expectations. So yes again, you can and should get by with the cheap one.

      Besides – as far I know gluehwein is served from Germany thru Austria, Slovenia, Czech republic up to Russian Federation, where it is called Glintvin 😉

  12. Zhu December 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Can I just have the mug? I’m not a wine drinker or a drinker period! 🙂

  13. amandapoverseas December 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I just tried Glühwein for the first time the other day. It wasn’t my favorite thing in the world but wasn’t as bad as I expected. Your mug looks nicer than ours did. We took a picture of it and returned it lol.

  14. Cathy Sweeney December 14, 2011 at 7:26 am - Reply

    I’ve been enjoying Glühwein very much while I’ve been in Germany. It’s so delicious and helps to keep you warm while enjoying the wonderful markets!

  15. 2010 Cocobon California Red Wine « Trader Joe's Wine Notes December 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    […] a perfect crowd pleaser for a general wine drinking audience or would make some awesome Glühwein – German mulled wine (A personal favorite of mine after living in Germany for sevearl […]

  16. Carol Cunningham October 23, 2012 at 12:23 am - Reply

    I’ve been invited to German friends’ house for Glühwein; is there some sort of cookie or appetizer I can bring to the evening?

    • Laurel October 24, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

      @Carol – Appetizers aren’t really popular in Germany (as I found out by the puzzled expression on my guests face when I had a whole table of them), but at the same time I’m sure your German hosts would appreciate it. My most two popular dishes that none of my German guests have heard of: spinach dip (served in a bread bowl) but it’s always been a hit whenever I’ve served it. Same with Rice Crispy squares (I made them because we had children coming over but they were a hit with the adults). I haven’t served cookies, but cookies aren’t really popular in Germany so I’m sure they would be a hit as well.

      If you wanted to bring something “safer” you could bring a bottle of wine, flowers or chocolate. I’m sure your German hosts will be grateful for whatever your bring. Have fun!

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