How to make Mulled Wine, a Christmas Tradition


Destination: Germany via NYC

Mode of Transport: Glühwein (mulled wine)

Clarence the Angel and George Bailey, go into a bar on a cold Christmas Eve, and Clarence orders a “Flaming Rum Punch”, an order that annoys the taciturn barkeep and owner, Nick; as his establishment is for “men who drink hard and want to get drunk fast”. The angel quickly changes his order to a “mulled wine”, another order that strains the bartender.  It’s a Wonderful Life is not only a Christmas Classic, but one of my favorite films, period. I was introduced to this film by my college girlfriend, May; and for that I am forever thankful. Viewing this film has been a large part of my individual Christmas Traditions and now also my family’s. We named our daughter Bailey because of this film. 

Christmas train at Santaland in Macy's NYC

Bailey at Santaland in Macy’s NYC.

The excerpt from the film which I mentioned earlier was the impetus to another Christmas Tradition – “Mulled Wine”. Since having heard Clarence ordering the drink many years ago, I have had many renditions of this cocktail in many establishments and homes. My close friend, Kevin; who comes down to the City from Connecticut to visit my family every year for the Holidays, brings a Christmas Tree and about 6 bottles of wine. These bottles are used strictly for mulled wine.

German Delights stand at Christmas Market at Columbus Circle in NYC

German Delights Vendor at Christmas Market at Columbus Circle in NYC

We have tried to perfect the recipe throughout the years and below is the latest:

Red Wine (a good one with some boldness, try a Malbec from Argentina). Pour the bottle into a pot, and with it, add fresh ginger (just cut a piece about the size of your thumb, and be sure to give it a smash to release the essence); the peel of a medium size orange, one cinnamon stick, some nutmeg, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and about a dozen cloves. Bring to a simmer, not a boil (you don’t want the alcohol to evaporate) and serve. Repeat as needed.

German Delights stand at the Columbus Circle Christmas Market in NYC

See the Gluehwein? It is so good… we also had some of their Bratwurst, delicious!

By now, you probably figured out that Brenda, Bailey and I are big fans of the Season. One travel dream we have is going to a Christmas Market in Germany, which we hope to do one day soon. Until then, we try to replicate the experience as best we can from what we know. We’ve been told that during the winter in Germany and Austria, there are vendors that dole out what they call “Gluhwein” (mulled wine) from carts that are akin to New York City Hot Dog carts. When I hear this, I imagine myself imbibing in the streets of Nuremberg on a cold mid-December day, while shopping for ornaments or a really good lederhosen. Try to imagine a 47 year old Filipino man in that get-up. You’ll definitely need a drink after that.

Toy Soldiers in Midtown NYCSo in the past few years, Brenda and I have brought Bailey to a Christmas Market they have had set up on the West Side of Central Park South. Not quite the famous Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt, but it does the trick. A tradition we have when we go to the market is to visit the German Food Stand and order up a Bratwurst and a cup of Gluhwein (non-alcohol version). This is by far the most festive food stand in the whole market. Along with manufacturing cars, and preserving a strong economy; the Germans do Christmas well. Aromas of sauerkraut, grilled sausages, mulled punch waft through the air. It’s just fantastic on a cold night.

Glühwein (mulled wine) at Paulaner Brewery on the Bowery in NYC

Back in our neighborhood downtown, the venerable German beer manufacturer, Paulaner, opened a microbrewery and restaurant, serving up traditional Bavarian offerings such as wienerschnitzel and bratwurst along with their home brews. This year they are also serving up some Gluhwein!

Paulaner Brewery on the Bowery in NYC

Last week, after walking around shopping in the cold all day; Brenda and I ducked into the place and enjoyed ourselves a cup of Gluhwein to help knock the chill out of our system. Along with the combination of good service, Holiday decor, and each other’s company; warmth came quickly.

Paulaner Brewery at the Bowery in NYCThis past Saturday, I viewed It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time this Season, and there is a scene at the end of the movie, in which Clarence the Angel gives George Bailey a note that reads, “No man is a failure who has friends”. Every time this part of the film comes up, I think of the people in my life now and those of yore. A warm feeling goes through my body that even the best mulled wine can’t equal. If you are one of those few who have never seen the film, give it a look, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Christmas Candy Cane in NYC

What makes the “mulled wine” so special to me is because it’s a tradition that people in my life help build. I hope you try the above mulled wine recipe for your next Holiday Party, and/or go to your local pub and get yourself a mug of the warm stuff. However you get to it, hopefully it becomes a part of your traditions; most of all I hope you get to share a toast with those who make the Holidays and Life in general so Wonderful.

Now, it’s your turn, have you tried the mulled wine called Glühwein or something similar, maybe you even want to try the recipe? Let us know in the comments so we can have a toast to the season! If you like this, we’d love for you to share it with your friends.

Travel TIP: Right before leaving on our Long-Term travels, we decided to treat ourselves to a few staycations in NYC because we had been staying at Brenda’s parents’ house for 6 months, in NJ. There were nights that we were just too tired to trek our way home. The hotel we enjoyed the most was the Grand Hyatt in Midtown, which is so close to everything and conveniently located next to Grand Central.


0 Replies to “How to make Mulled Wine, a Christmas Tradition”

  1. I love experiencing the world through your eyes, your adventures, and your pictures! Another fun, festive tale…hope you make it to a Christmas Market in Germany some day soon 🙂

    1. Thanks Stacey, I’m glad you liked the read. I hope you can join me next week with another Holiday in New York post. Happy Holidays, Andrew

  2. Thanks sounds soooo good, I’m going to give it a try! And maybe drink it while watching It’s a Good Life 🙂

    1. Melinda: You should definitely try it, you’ll be hooked. Tune in for next week’s Holiday treat. All the best, Andrew

  3. This is such a great idea! I’m going to give your recipe a try, my daughter and I are decorating our tree tonight. Perfect time!

    1. Karen: The tree arrives for us as well tonight; and as the post mentions, so does the wine… Hope the recipe is to your liking. Hope you join next week. Best, Andrew

  4. Thanks for this post! I loved reading about your holiday traditions. We were trying to think of a Christmas drink to make without a kitchen here in Thailand and I think this mulled wine will be perfect!!

    1. Evanne: I’ll be interested to see how it cam out for you. Enjoy and a Merry Christmas! Best, Andrew

  5. Elise: Thank you for the comment, it really is a great time to be in the city. Hope you try the recipe this year. Join us again this week as we uncover another tradition. Best, Andrew

  6. I dream of drinking GLÜHWEIN at a Christmas market in Germany one day! For now, I guess I’ll just have to use your recipe to make mine at home.

    1. Kelsey: I hope that we both make that dream a reality soon. However, there is still no place like home for the holidays. Enjoy your Christmas drink and hope you join us again soon. Best, Andrew

  7. Mmm, glùhwein. SO goooooood 🙂 I am taking all types of mugs from German Christmasmarkets, having glühwein from these mugs at home is just the best.

    1. Esther: Jealous about your mugs, great idea collecting them. Enjoy your Christmas drink and hope you join us again for another read. Best, Andrew

  8. I love mulled wine! It is the best thing about being cold at Christmas. In fact, it’s the only good thing about being cold at Christmas. I’m in Australia this year so no mulled wine (but plenty of nice whites and sparklings instead!) but I do love it when I am in the colder climates.

    1. Cyra: Mulled wine is the best! I’d love to know your secret ingredients. Happy Christmas, and hope you join us again soon. Thanks for the read. Best, Andrew

  9. Germany seems like such a fun place to spend Christmas. Coming from Australia the idea of Christmas with all the snow and mulled wine seems bizarre to me. Looking forward to seeing what an English Christmas has in store for me this year. But I think Germany looks amazing!

    1. Megsy: I hope you enjoy your English Christmas, home of Dickens and the likes. I’m sure you’ll find some version of a mulled wine or toddy over there. Hope you join us again. Best, Andrew

  10. This recipe sounds delish! And I love your quote from It’s a Wonderful Life. Thanks for sharing, Brenda!

    1. Anne: The recipe is worth a try, and next time you see the film (televised on NBC, USA on Christmas Eve) look out for the quote. Thanks for reading and hope you join us again on our next Holiday post. Best, Andrew

    1. Mark and Kate: As it should be! Happy Holidays and hope that you join us again. Best, Andrew

  11. Sounds yummy + easy! I may just add your mulled wine recipe to my holiday party repetoire.

    1. Sharon: You should definitely add it to your repertoire, you’ll have your company feeling nice and warm. All the best this Holiday. Hope you join us agin next time. Best, Andrew

Leave a Reply