When I was in college I had the opportunity to study abroad in Vienna. I barely remember the classes, and my German is now beyond rusty, but I still have many clear memories of the travel. It was the fall semester, which ended just days before Christmas, so I was able to visit numerous Christmas markets in Austria and Germany. At almost every one, the snow fell as we drank Glühwein amid decorated trees with a beautiful old church backdrop. I kid you not, it was that picturesque.
Glühwein is a German-Austrian version of mulled wine that is a very popular après–ski drink. In the U.S., we typically use red wine, but in Austria and Germany, I found that glühwein was often available made with white wine. You can enjoy it either way!
And yes, this is a naturally dairy-free and allergy-friendly drink. You are more than welcome to jump over to my post on dairy-free cream liqueurs if dairy substitutes are the only thing on your mind. But we celebrate all things dairy-free – it’s a great reminder that so many wonderful foods and beverages don’t require a substitute! In fact, this very flavorful glühwein recipe is vegan and free of all top allergens. So you can enjoy it as a delicious new tradition with all your family and friends.
Recipe Tips: Classic German Glühwein
I’ve adapted this recipe from a favorite on AllRecipes. But I also have some quick tips!
Fresh is Best. If you do opt for orange juice instead of water, I recommend fresh-squeezed. It tends to have more of a natural sweet-tart flavor that doesn’t add as much sweetness as store-bought orange juice. About 3 more oranges (beyond the one already in the recipe) should yield about 3/4 to 1 cup juice.
Mind the Sugar. If you do use store-bought orange juice instead of water, or you are concerned about the glühwein being too sweet, then you can reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. Keep in mind that the pre-wine mixture won’t get as thick and syrupy if you use less sugar.
Go For Cheap Wine. This isn’t the time to bust out that expensive Cabernet. Cheap wine shines in this hot mulled delight, and almost any type will do. But I would keep the sweetness or tartness of the wine in mind when adding sugar in the recipe. Choose red, white, or even blush. But be sure to make sure your wine choice is dairy-free if trace amounts of milk are a concern.
Special Diet Notes: Classic German Glühwein
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- ¾ cup water or orange juice (see Recipe Tips above)
- ¾ cup sugar (see Recipe Tips above)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange, halved
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 (750 mL) bottle red, rose, or white wine (see Recipe tips above)
- Put the water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, while whisking, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Squeeze the juice of the orange into the simmering sugar water. Add the orange peel and cloves.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, or until syrupy.
- Add the wine, and heat just until steaming, but not simmering. Strain to remove the peel, cloves, and residual pulp.
- Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water. Keep remaining glühwein warm.