Sugar & spice

Just as varietals of wine vary throughout countries and climates, the base spirit for gluhwein (spiced wine) varies depending upon what’s popular in vineyards along Europe’s most treasured rivers. In Germany, you may find white wines like Riesling the basis for this mulled concoction, whereas reds are definitely the focal point in Austria. No matter which version you try, it’s a wonderful way to warm up as on a cold day, especially if you’re strolling between booths on Christmas Markets Along the Rhine, Christmastime on the Seine, Christmas Markets Along the Danube, or our newest holiday trip, Christmas Markets Along the Elbe.

Gluhwein (spiced wine)

This recipe uses a crock pot, which not only makes it convenient, but is a nice nod to the sentiment of sharing something communal at the holiday season. If you don’t have a slow cooker, however, you can just make this in a large pot on the stove. Get ready—it will make your home smell wonderful!


1 bottle red wine (750 ml)
1 ½ cups orange juice
1-2 thick slices lemon (with rind)
2 cinnamon sticks
10-15 cloves
5 whole allspice
1 star anise
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar (or muscavado)


Add all of the spices to the pot, or tie them in a bit of cheesecloth before adding them to the pot, with the liquids and lemon. Heat together over low heat or simmer, and keep on the same setting for 30 minutes up to several hours—the longer it’s heated, the more intense the flavors. Serve warm, and garnish with a cinnamon stick in each glass or mug, if you like!

Serves: 8