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Mulled wine

Three warm cups to ring in Christmas.

Gluhwein (German- and Austrian-Style Mulled Wine)

Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Gluhwein (German- and Austrian-Style Mulled Wine)

Across northern Europe, this season is marked by bright, festive outdoor Christmas markets filled with holiday crafts, food, and drink — and it’s highly likely that the drink on offer is a warm cup of aromatic mulled wine. Called gluhwein (glow wine) in Germany and Austria and glogg in Scandinavia, most mulled wine recipes are variations on the same theme, wine simmered with spices and sweetener. Whatever version you choose, the fragrance of spiced wine gently bubbling makes for a warm, convivial welcome.

A couple of notes: First, these recipes are spiced and sweetened conservatively, so you may well want to adjust the sweetener to your taste before serving. Second, don’t let the wine boil, which imparts a funky oxidized taste. Last, like sangria, mulled wine mellows with a rest. If you have time, consider making it a couple of hours ahead to let it stand, off heat, with the seasonings. Reheat gently and add any extra alcohol five minutes before serving.

GLUHWEIN(GERMAN- AND AUSTRIAN-STYLE MULLED WINE)

Makes about 2 quarts

Continue reading below

Kirsch adds fruity complexity; rum or brandy adds a boozy kick.

10 whole cloves

1 cups juice from 4 oranges, plus zest from 2 oranges, removed in strips with vegetable peeler

cup light brown sugar, or more, to taste

2 cinnamon sticks

2 750-milliliter bottles medium-bodied fruity red wine such as merlot or syrah

1 cup kirsch or rum or brandy (or a mix), optional

Stick the cloves into 2 or 3 strips of the orange zest. In a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the orange juice, cup water, and brown sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Adjust the heat to medium-low, add the cinnamon sticks and about two-thirds of the orange zest strips (including the clove-studded pieces) and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until fragrant and thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the wine, cover partially, and simmer until the wine is infused, at least 1 hour (do not allow to boil). Add the kirsch, rum, or brandy, if using, stir to mix, and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and add sugar if necessary. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange zest.

Meanwhile, heat small mugs or heatproof glasses with hot water and cut the remaining orange zest strips to make as many pieces as you have mugs. Empty the mugs or glasses, fill with gluhwein, garnish with zest, and serve at once.

GLOGG (SCANDINAVIAN-STYLE MULLED WINE)

Makes about 3 quarts

Aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit that, in its most popular style, tastes strongly of caraway, is both a common addition to glogg and an acquired taste. If you like aquavit, by all means use it in place of the vodka here. Raisins and almonds are the traditional garnish.

cup golden raisins, or more as necessary

1 cup vodka

10 whole cloves

Zest from 1 orange, removed in strips with vegetable peeler

½ cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

6 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly

2 750-milliliter bottles medium-bodied fruity red wine such as merlot or syrah

3 cups ruby port

cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted, or more as necessary

In a small bowl, cover the raisins with the vodka and set aside to macerate. Stick the cloves into 2 or 3 strips of the orange zest.

Meanwhile, in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup water and the sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Adjust the heat to medium-low, add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and the orange zest strips (including the clove-studded pieces) and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until fragrant and thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the wine, cover partially, and simmer until the wine is infused, at least 1 hour (do not allow to boil). Add the port and the vodka from the bowl of raisins, stir to mix, and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sugar if necessary. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, and orange zest.

Meanwhile, heat small mugs or heatproof glasses with hot water. Empty them, add the glogg and about 1½ teaspoons of the soaked raisins per mug or glass, sprinkle with a few almond slices, and serve.

TIP: Warming the serving mugs is a nice touch. Just pour in some boiling water, allow them to sit for about 2 minutes, empty, and fill with warm wine.

Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP: Warming the serving mugs is a nice touch. Just pour in some boiling water, allow them to sit for about 2 minutes, empty, and fill with warm wine.

MULLED WHITE WINE WITH GINGER AND ELDERFLOWER

Makes about 2 quarts

Choose a white wine that’s neither too acidic nor too oaky. St. Germain is a widely available elderflower liqueur; St. Elder is similar, and made in Somerville.

6 whole cloves

Zest from 1 large lemon, removed in strips with vegetable peeler

½ cup honey, or more, to taste

1 1¼-inch piece fresh ginger (no need to peel), cut into 4 pieces, all smashed

½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, and seeds scraped out

2 750-milliliter bottles medium-bodied dry or off-dry white wine such as riesling, gruner veltliner, or viognier

1 cup elderflower liqueur, such as St. Elder or St. Germain

Stick the cloves into 2 or 3 strips of the lemon zest. In a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, bring ½ cup water and the honey to a simmer, stirring to dissolve. Add the ginger, vanilla bean (pod and seeds), and  about two-thirds of the  lemon zest strips (including the clove-studded pieces) and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until fragrant and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, cover partially and simmer until the wine is infused, at least 1 hour (do not allow to boil). Add the elderflower liqueur, stir to mix, and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with honey if necessary. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the ginger, vanilla bean pod, cloves, and lemon zest.

Meanwhile, heat small mugs or heatproof glasses with hot water. Cut the remaining lemon zest strips in half lengthwise to make as many pieces as people you’re serving. Empty the mugs or glasses, add the mulled wine, garnish with zest, and serve.

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