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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Girls Justa Wanna Have Gluhwein

The first time I ever tasted Gluhwein is a surprisingly clear memory. It was in my second year at varsity and I was out on the town (7th Avenue Melville) for some wintery festivity. There was a party being hosted at my all-time favourite drinking hole, Unplugged, and a deliciously hot vat of Gluhwein was being mulled and served at the entrance. Hot wine? I thought, eugh no.  But the haunting warm aromas of cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg and citrus wafted through the icy cold June air like a sweet song you hadn’t heard in ages. I had to try some.

I warmed my hands on the hot cup and sipped as little goose-bumps appeared on my ridiculously bare legs, hiding underneath a gypsy coat.  All I needed was for a snowflake to fall on my nose and it would have felt like Christmas in Germany or something. Since then, I have been a huge fan of the velvet burgundy winter drink and make a point of hosting a Gluhwein shindig every winter. If not twice, sluuuurp!

Gluhwein or mulled wine has a long history dating back to as far as 500B.C. Gluhwein actually translates to “Glow Wine”, probably because of its warming qualities. In the olden days, spices and herbs were added to wine for health reasons as well as to pimp the taste. Combinations of these spices as well as cooking methods varied depending on family and country tradition. I’m a sap for sentiment and love it when something has a history or a story.

There are a few ways you can make Gluhwein, I like to switch it up! The great part is that if you use spices to flavour the wine, you can really add whatever warming flavours you like. You could even visit Woollies and buy their ready-made Gluhwein in a bottle – all you have to do is heat it up. Bottle stores also supply a mix for you to add in your wine (powder or sometimes spices in a tea bag sort of apparatus) as it warms on the stove. Me? I love the process of building a sweet unique flavour, and having my home fill up with humming hues of heartfelt comfort.

This year I plan on trying Jamie Oliver’s recipe – he’s a no fail favourite chef of mine and he keeps things simple.  I like how he has incorporated bay leaves – I love sweet and savoury blends! Of course I’m going to put my own spin on things and just use whatever lovely red that catches my fancy on shopping day. Last year I stuck a bunch of cloves in orange wedges to add to the pot of wine and spices – suffice to say, a good time was had by all!

Jamie’s Mulled Wine


2 clementines
1 lemon
1 lime
200 g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
2 star anise
2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I'm doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you'll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

Now that we’re on the brink of winter, I think it’s a perfect time to start practising your Gluhwein concoction! Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yum, I'm thirsty. We're all going to want an invite !