Spiced German Glühwein, a German-style holiday mulled red wine recipe with oranges, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and brandy. A festive holiday party punch alternative!
While there are many mulled wine recipe alternatives, we love to make a twist on glühwein, the German mulled wine that is most often associated with outdoor Christmas markets. Made with red wine, mulling spices, a bit of liquor, and orange, it’s the perfect warm seasonal drink to enjoy during Yule.
That’s why we’re super excited to share this easy Spiced German Glühwein recipe with you. The spiced wine recipe comes together in under 20 minutes and is the perfect no-fuss crowd-pleasing drink recipe for holiday parties.
👉 Ready to learn how to make spiced German-style mulled wine? Let’s do it!
💚 Why you’ll love this recipe
Here are three reasons why you should be sipping on German mulled wine:
- It’s a great holiday tradition! Mulled wine is one of our favorite holiday traditions. It’s no secret we love wine any time of year, but there’s something about the aroma of mulled wine spices in the air during the holiday season. It’s like a little bit of magic in a cup.
- It’s low maintenance. This spiced wine recipe is ready in a pinch. You can make it to pair with a quick weeknight dinner or to share with guests at your next party!
- You can make it ahead. You can combine mulling spices in advance (they also make great edible holiday gifts!). The spiced simple syrup can be made up to a week ahead of time. All you have to do is reheat before making mulled wine.
The ingredients that you need to make glühwein are super simple, and you more than likely already have most of them in your pantry. Here’s an overview of what you need:
- Orange juice + brown sugar: Used to make the base of the simple syrup mix.
- Cloves, cinnamon sticks, + star anise: Warm spices that bring the flavor to German mulled wine.
- Red wine: You’ll need 1 750 ml bottle for this drink.
- Liquor: Add your liquor of choice to the mix. Brandy, bourbon, rum, or amaretto are perfect options.
- Garnish: orange slices, cinnamon stick, star anise
- Recommended tools: environmentally-friendly cookware, mulled wine set, serving ladle, and a hotplate if keep warm during a party
🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)
1️⃣ Step One: Make the spiced simple syrup
Start by adding the orange juice, sugar, and spices to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced and starts to thicken and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.
2️⃣ Step Two: Add red wine + liquor to the syrup
After the spiced syrup is thick, add the red wine and your liquor of choice. We like brandy or amaretto, but rum and bourbon are also popular mulled wine liquor additions. Heat the mulled wine on low for about 15 minutes to let the wine become spiced, but be careful not to simmer or boil (even a low simmer) because the alcohol will burn off (it’s science!).
3️⃣ Step Three: Serve the spiced Glühwein + enjoy!
When you’re ready to serve, scoop out mulled wine with a punch bowl spoon and garnish with an orange. Enjoy around the holiday tree with friends and family.
❓ Recipe questions + quick tips
Mulled wine and Glühwein are actually the same thing! Glühwein is simply the German term for hot spiced wine. Since recipes for mulled wine/Glühwein vary, you will find that it doesn’t always taste the same. That’s what makes it interesting, though, because you can use different types of wine and spice mixes.
Dry red wine typically works the best for Glühwein. Wines that are rich in fruit flavors are also good options. Merlot, Zinfandel, or Garnacha are our favorites for mulled wine!
Mulled wine is made of red wine combined with spices like cinnamon and cloves. It is typically mixed with a shot of liquor and served warm. It’s popular around the holidays and cold seasons.
💡 Ideas for serving
Spiced German Glühwein can be made and held at a warm temperature for up to four hours. Here are some ways to make sure your Glühwein is top-notch for serving:
- Keep it warm: use a small hotplate to keep glühwein warm during your holiday party
- Experiment with mulling spices: while cinnamon is a must for mulling spices, you can switch up the flavors by incorporating herbs and spices like peppermint oil extract, nutmeg, whole cloves, vanilla bean, orange rind, rosemary, and star anise.
🧊 How to store
We love how easy that it is to store Glühwein–you can make it in advance and serve it later. Here’s how to store it to maintain its quality:
- Refrigerator storage: Store in an airtight pitcher in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat over the stove following the same instructions as above.
- Freezer storage: We do not recommend storing mulled wine in the freezer.
👉 More drink recipes
Love this simple glühwein recipe? Check out our other seasonal cocktail and drink recipes
- Pomegranate Margarita
- Mocha Matcha Green Tea Latte (add a shot of liquor for a boozy treat!)
- Cinnamon Apple Cider Spritzer
- Peppermint Matcha Latte
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Spiced German Glühwein
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 10 whole dried cloves
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- ¼ cup brandy bourbon, rum, or amaretto
- Garnish: orange slices, cinnamon stick, star anise
- To make spiced simple syrup: Combine orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan, simmering over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise and simmer until the liquid is reduced and starts to thicken.
- Combine simple syrup with the wine: Reduce heat to medium-low and add red wine, being careful not to simmer or boil (which burns off the alcohol). Add liquor of choice (brandy or amaretto are great options), heating just below a simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Serve the glühwein: Serve warm with an orange slice.
- Heating tip: Keep warm for up to four hours over a low heat, but do not boil.
- Notes: Be careful not to boil wine or else alcohol will burn off…and then it will just be juice. Keep glühwein warm during a party by placing in a serving dish over low heat (a hotplate works well for parties) for up to four hours.
- Tools needed: environmentally-friendly cookware, mulled wine set, serving ladle, and a hotplate if keep warm during a party
- Prep ahead: Combine mulling spices head of time (they also make great edible holiday gifts!); make spiced simple syrup up to a week ahead of time and reheat before making mulled wine.
- Leftovers and storage: After cooling wine to room temperature, store in an airtight pitcher in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat over the stove until warm, but not boiling.
- Nutrition notes: This holiday spiced wine recipe is a great low calorie celebratory drink. The added sugar is a traditional ingredient addition that only slightly sweetens the wine, however you could omit it and it would still be a delicious holiday party option.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in December 2018 and was updated for clarity in March 2022.