The world of wine

Glühwein, the sweet, flavoured drink of the holiday season

Christmas markets are now a must for the festive season, both in South Tyrol and Germany, the country where they originated together with Glühwein, an alcoholic flavoured drink with an energising effect. The recipe is based on red wine, to which spices, orange and sugar are added. 


The closest cousin of this warm winter treat is our Vin Brulé, which resembles other European hot drinks, like Vin Chaud for French-speaking countries, or Mulled Wine for the English-speaking ones, while for Scandinavian countries there is the Glögg.  There is no point in trying to figure out the contemporary origins of this drink, because what everyone can agree on is the conditium paradoxum, in use among the Ancient Romans, sweetened with honey, dates and spices, and offered at the end of a meal. This sweet nectar also survived the Middle Ages where it was enriched with medicinal herbs, and drunk both hot, in the hypocras version, and cold in the claret version.

Which wine to choose

Since it is a flavoured drink, it is obvious that any base wine for the Glühwein or its cousin,Vin Brulé, will be completely distorted by the spices and sugar, hence it is advisable not to spend a fortune, but not to buy a cheap wine either. The quality of the wine is the basis from which to start, especially if you are preparing it for your loved ones at Christmas time, so we suggest you drink just the right amount, but of a good quality. 

The properties of wine

Of the many red wines available, choose one with body, because the simmering process required by the Vin Brulé recipe leads to an evaporation of the water, but also partly of the alcohol, especially if the temperature exceeds 78°C, increasing the dry extract. Not to mention that the sugar and the medium-high serving temperature increase the pseudo-caloric sensation of the wine, making it softer, more enveloping and with a pleasant viscous edge on the palate, given by the glycerine contained in the wine. All this providing its quality is good, it goes without saying. On the contrary, if you go for an acid wine, without body and aroma, after what you will have after simmering is a mixture of alcohol and little else, of which you will hardly take a sip. This is why it is advisable to go for well-structured, fruity and soft wines like a Teroldego or a Lagrein, or if you prefer a Vin Brulé that is ‘slenderer’ both in colour and on the palate, then you may want to go for a Schiava

the recipe


  • 750 ml good quality red wine (Lagrein, Teroldego, Schiava)
  • Lemon peel (untreated)
  • Orange peel (untreated)  
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 100 g sugar

Preparation time

Stick the cloves into the peel of the orange or lemon so that they are easily retrievable. Pour all the ingredients into a large saucepan, then stir over a medium flame to melt the sugar. Then lower the flame to the minimum and leave to heat for about half an hour. Never bring to the boil. Strain and serve hot. 

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