Last Updated on 7th November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
No winter warmer says Christmas quite liked mulled wine. Found throughout Europe during the festive period, this sweet, warm drink is best served piping hot and drunk together with good friends. Here’s a Christmas Mulled wine recipe to warm you up this winter period, as well as a history of Glühwein:
Origins of the Christmas Market Mulled wine tradition
If there’s one thing you’ll find throughout the Christmas markets of Europe, it’s mulled wine. Although each country has its own variation, some kind of spiced wine can be found across most European countries. The spicy hot drink is otherwise known as ‘Vin Chaud’ (hot wine and typically made with honey, orange and cinnamon) in French.
‘Gløgg’ in Nordic traditions (made using red wine, spices and a spirit such as brandy or vodka) and ‘Glühwein’ (glow wine- named after the hot red irons to heat the wine centuries ago) in German, this sweet alcoholic beverage is the perfect drink to match the festive season.
The warm beverage that is spiced wine (which can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) has been consumed for Centuries, although no one knows its exact origins. In fact, there’s evidence that spiced wine was consumed as far back as Ancient Egypt (3000 BCE).
At this time, it was considered to have medicinal properties. The Romans also heated wine as early as the Second century, suggesting that humans have been adding spices and heating the alcohol for as long as they’ve had wine. Whatever the origins of mulled wine, it’s since become a staple tradition in Christmas Markets around Europe!
Circe Mulling Wine, by Gioacchino Assereto, Italy, Oil on Canvas, circa 1630 via Wikipedia
A History of Glühwein in Germany
The mulled wine recipe below is a variation of Glühwein, which is popular throughout Germany and the Alsace region of France (in fact, Glühwein is often the only alcoholic beverage served at the iconic Christkindelsmärik in Alsace).
Although usually made with red wine, a white wine version does exist. The first Glühwein tankard still in existence dates all the way back to 1420 and was once owned by the German nobleman, Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, who also happened to be the first cultivator of Riesling grapes.
A History of Mulled wine in the United Kingdom
Britain also has a long history of consuming mulled wine in the winter time, particularly over the Christmas period. Here, you can find it served in many pubs, bars and cafés- perfect as a way to warm up from the chilly weather.
You’ll also find it in Christmas Markets up and down the country, such as the Manchester Christmas Markets. In the UK, you’ll also find mulled versions of cider, ale and apple juice for those wishing to consume something completely alcohol-free.
Many British Christmas markets sell the spiced drinks, or at the very least, sell the spices to flavour your own beverages. Many UK supermarkets also sell the spice to make your own wine for a few pounds.
A History of Vin Chaud in France
The French version of mulled wine is ‘vin chaud,’ which can literally be translated as ‘hot wine’. The festive drink traditionally uses honey and spices and was probably brewed as far back as the 2nd Century CE.
The drink as we know it today has probably existed since around the 19th-century. If you want to taste some vin chaud for yourself, then why not check out one of these Christmas markets in France?
A history of Glögg in Sweden
Of course, the Nordics, too, have their own mulled wine in the form of Glögg. In Norway, it’s called gløgg, in Danish, it’s called gløgg, while in Finnish it’s glögi, and in Swedish it’s glögg. Though the mulled drink was traditionally a spiced liquor, many ready to consume drinks you’ll find at Christmas Markets in Sweden and the like are now non-alcoholic.
Typically made from blackcurrant or grape juice, the hot drink is spiced using ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. It’s also pretty common for entire raisins to be added into the drink to be consumed together with the drink, making Glögg a fun non-alcoholic alternative to traditional mulled wine.