December 25, 2011


Today, in the spirit of traversing half of this country in under 6 hours, having breakfast in North Carolina and supper in Arkansas, recovering from an incense-filled midnight service (complete with Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium and Sweelinck's Hodie Christus natus est, no less), little sleep but plenty of bourbon, I bring to the table - literally and figuratively - Glühwein.

I also recently read a sentence in The New Yorker that was about twenty lines long. It was very crass, grammatically inappropriate, but my excuse for the convoluted statement above. To put it more succinctly: I sang a service at midnight, hopped on a plane to Arkansas, and started thinking about this Glühwein that I made a couple of weeks ago. 

Glühwein happened the same night as that miraculous stovetop macaroni and cheese and the equally miraculous online bridesmaid dress shopping experience. As my girlfriends and I huddled around the computer screen perusing satiny blue dresses on J. Crew, Glühwein simmered on the stove in my beautiful blue French oven. The spicy, citrusy smell was unbelievable. A North Carolina pine in the corner with its colored lights and sparkle ornaments stood tall and proud, a grownup fixture in a grownup living room. And the memories that that warm wine smell conjured were unmistakable: Germany. Christmas markets. Gingerbread. 

Now, I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away from the subject of Christmas markets and delicious outdoor eats for the rest of the month. Glühwein is a staple of cold-weather eating and drinking. Its aroma mingles with grilled sausage and spicy mustard, sugared nuts, cookies, and boiled chestnuts. The siren pull of Glühwein pots cannot be missed. As you sip that hot red liquid, you walk around the market getting your eyes full of all the beautiful things for sale and display. 

My living room, even with the grownup North Carolina pine, is certainly no Christmas market. But try making Glühwein in your own kitchen and you will understand what I mean about the warmth and the spices and the little ceramic mugs that somehow make Glühwein taste that much better. Some Christmas markets stay open until January and the tenacious vendors continue to serve Glühwein on the cold days between Christmas and New Year's. Never buy mulled wine from the grocery store again when this recipe is so easy to make. All you need is a lot of red wine, a little sugar, oranges, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. In other words, things that are probably already on hand after a long season of holiday baking. Let's go!


2 bottles red wine (quality is subject to taste; I used a middling quality wine and it was absolutely delicious. I could see the "two buck chuck" variety working very well)
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange, sliced thin
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks

In a large stockpot, simmer wine on low heat until warm. Be very careful not to boil or overheat the wine or you will end up with toasty, rancid wine, and nobody wants that on Christmas.

Add sugar and whisk until completely dissolved in wine. Add oranges, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Some people add whole cloves to orange slices, which produces a pretty, aesthetic effect but won't alter the taste at all. Simmer wine on low heat for about an hour. Buy some shoes online, make macaroni and cheese, or read a cooking magazine to plan your next meal.

Serve hot in small glasses or mugs with orange wedges, preferably with some German Christmas music in the background. Sweelinck and Victoria accepted.

Or, alternatively, enjoy Glühwein while looking through snowy Germany pictures. Here are a few, just to get started. Merry Christmas!

Weimar, Goethe's Garden on the Ilm


Schauinsland (Schwarzwald) near Freiburg, Germany



No comments:

Post a Comment