Sunday, January 26, 2014

Glühwein & Other Mulled Winter Drinks


There's nothing quite like a mug of hot spiced wine to warm the belly on a cold winter's day. This year I had the wonderful opportunity to partake in the Hamburg Christmas Market festivities and indulge in one of my favorite winter holiday traditions...mulled wine! I was amazed by the wide variety of this hot beverage available amidst the market labyrinths (not to mention the tasty culinary selection to accompany them) 
So, as any connoiseur would do, I made it my mission to try them all!   

Prost! - ein Toast!

What exactly is Glühwein?

Glühwein (translating to, "glow-wine," due to the hot irons once used for mulling) is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus fruits, sugar and ocasionally cardamom and vanilla pods. If you fancy a lighter flavor, white wine can also be used to make Weißer Glühwein (white mulled wine). 

These mulled wines are sometimes drunk mit Schuss (with a shot), which means that rum or some other liquor has been added. For me, the extra shot was overkill--and especially precarious if you're on an extended glühwein crawl.  

Fruit wines, such as blueberry wine and cherry wine, are occasionally used instead of grape wine in some parts of Germany. Heidelbeerpunsch (mulled blueberry wine) was my personal favorite. Another tasty option is Apfelpunsch (spiced apple cider), with an added shot or rum for those who want a punch to their punsch. If you need a break from the booze, but are still craving a hot drink, there is always the non-alcoholic Kinderpunsch ("kiddie punch") option.

Feuerzangenbowle (translating to "fire tong punch") is another popular variant of traditional Glühwein in Germany, and is shown in the photos below. It shares the same recipe, but for this drink a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and allowed to drip into the giant copper pots which hold the brew. The result is divine!

                                 The dramatic Feuerzangenbowle in the making 

Although mulled wines are the most popular choice, one must not forget the tasty Eierpunsch (egg punch), which is made with egg yolks, sugar, white wine and vanilla. Sometimes whipped cream or custard is added to make it frothier.
A typical recipe of Eierpunsch with white wine to serve 3-4 persons would be:
  • 1 bottle of white wine (750 ml)
  • 4 eggs (or 8 egg yolks)
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • one packet of vanilla sugar (equivalent of 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 250 ml of strong tea
  • lemon or lemon juice

Prepare the 250 ml of tea and allow to cool. Whisk the 5 tablespoons of sugar into the eggs (or egg yolks) and add a little cold white wine and then beat vigorously. Add the vanilla sugar to the mixture and pour in the remaining white wine, cinnamon, the cloves, lemon juice and the cooled tea. It is also optional to add 50ml of dark rum to the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a pan and gently heat. Do not let the mixture heat too quickly. Before it comes to a boil, remove from the heat. The mixture should be foaming on top. Remove the four cloves. Serve hot and foamy in a mug with whipped cream on top and a ginger cookie. (This recipe can also be made with red wine. However, do not add the 250 ml of tea to the mixture. This will also affect the number of servings too.)

                        A typical hot drink menu at one of the many market stalls I visited

I wish you all a fruitful and spicy 2014, and recommend that you do your own mulled wine tasting in one of the many traditional German Christmas Markets next holiday season!!

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