Sustainability made simple

How to Make Mulled Wine the German Way

gluhwein recipe
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Bru-nO

A steaming mug of glühwein is one of the most delicious ways to get into the holiday spirit. Try one of these simple glühwein recipes at home. You can control the amount of sugar that goes into it and tweak the spices to make your German mulled wine taste just the way you like it.

In Germany, wintertime means Christmas markets. From the biggest city to the smallest village, if you go looking, you are certain to find a smattering of little wooden huts selling baked apples, handmade gifts, bratwurst and the ultimate cold-weather staple — German mulled wine, or glühwein.

Fun fact: Translated literally, glühwein means glowing or smoldering wine.

Sipping a hot drink on a cold day is one of the greatest pleasures of winter. We have three simple glühwein recipes to get you into the holiday spirit. Whether you prefer the classic red German mulled wine, the less common white wine version or a non-alcoholic take on glühwein, your homemade glühwein is guaranteed to taste much better than anything you can find in the grocery store.

1. Red Glühwein Recipe: the Traditional German Mulled Wine

To make this traditional glühwein recipe, gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of dry red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec.  
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cloves
  • 2-3 tbsp. of sugar, honey, or agave syrup
  • whole cardamom pods, to taste
  • optional: 1 vanilla bean

Tip: Want to move towards green living? Whenever possible, choose organic over conventional ingredients.


For our first glühwein recipe, slowly (!) heat the red wine in a large pot on medium heat. Make sure that the wine never reaches a boil to prevent the alcohol from evaporating. Prolonged exposure to high heat could also cause the formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) molecules, which can be carcinogenic. 

As the wine is being heated, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. If you don’t have oranges at home, try using lemons or combining both. If you enjoy the strong flavor of cardamom, add a few cardamom pods to the mixture. 

Try this glühwein recipe to make your own German mulled wine at home! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Baguggi)

Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for approximately one hour. Before serving, heat up (don’t boil!) the glühwein again and pour it through a sieve into mugs or glasses to remove all the fruit and spices. 

Making traditional German mulled wine is really that simple. Cheers!

2. White Glühwein Recipe: Mulled White Wine

Looking for a different take on classic German mulled wine? Try this version made with white wine.


  • 1 bottle of white wine of your choice
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 star anise 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar, honey, or agave syrup

Try to find organic ingredients. For the vegans among us, remember that not all wine is vegan!


Zest the orange and the lemon peel, being careful not to use any of the bitter pith. 

Pour the white wine into a large pot and place over medium heat. Press the orange and the lemon and add their juice to the white wine. Now add the sugar or sugar substitute and spices and allow to heat slowly. Do not allow it to boil.

Remove from heat and allow to steep for at least one hour. This will help the flavors become deeper and blend together. If you are looking for ways to be even more festive, serve your white glühwein in clear glass mugs with apple slices. 

gluhwein recipe white
White German mulled wine looks lovely when served with apple slices. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay)

3. Alcohol-Free Glühwein Recipe

This punch is an alcohol-free alternative to traditional German mulled wine that children and adults alike can enjoy.


  • 4 and 1/2 cups apple or grape juice, unsweetened
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • honey or sugar  


Heat the juice with all the ingredients except the sugar or honey. Allow to steep for at least an hour, and then taste to test for sweetness. Apple juice is often sweet enough on its own, so you might not need to add sugar or honey at all. Add sweetener to taste – or if you think the punch is too sweet, try adding fruit tea to thin it out. 

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