The brightly colored Christmas Market mugs are hard to resist. In fact, when I packed to leave my Amadeus Silver II cruise, I had five mugs tucked into my luggage.
“It is tradition,” tour guide Renata said. “Many people collect the mugs every year and each Christmas Market has its own mug.”
The mugs are now a beautiful part of my kitchen. I also have a recipe for the traditional drink that comes in the mugs – glühwein. My Silver II cruise arranged by Amras Cruises shared a recipe so that folks can enjoy the seasonal drink all year round.
Glühwein stands are scattered around the various Christmas markets in Germany and France. Some of the stands also offer a choice of other hot drinks like hot chocolate or alcohol-free fruit punch. A liberal translation of the name means “glow wine.” Easy to figure out that drinking enough of that potent hot liquid would make anyone glow.
The mugs usually have a local scene or symbol on them, plus the name of the town and the year. The mugs are not only beautiful but they serve a recycling purpose. To have glühwein served in one of the commemorative mugs, you pay a deposit of 2.50 euros or $2.74 in U.S. dollars. You can return the mug to get your deposit back or you can pay between 2 to 3 euros to have it refilled with glühwein. Good deal and it sure cuts down on disposable container waste.
The traditional hot spiced wine is popular throughout the holidays and during winter, Renata said, adding that the drink is called vin chaud in France. I do have a Strasbourg mug which once held my vin chaud. I couldn’t tell any difference between the vin chaud and the glühwein.
Savoring Glühwein While the Silver II Cruises
Today, we were treated to some glühwein and cookies as we stood on the top deck of the Amadeus Silver II to cruise through what is called “The Romantic Rhine.” Cruise director Lorelay regaled us with historic tales about the countryside as we sipped, munched and marveled as the beautiful landscape we were cruising past.
The credit for spiced or mulled wine goes to the ancient Romans who originated it in about 500 B.C. Spices and herbs were added to the wine to improve the taste and also perhaps for medicinal reasons.
The American “hot toddy” to relieve coughs and colds might be traced to that same belief. My father’s favorite cold remedy was to pour a mug of boiling water, squeeze some fresh lemon into it, add a bit of honey and a big shot of Kentucky whisky.
The remedy was to breathe the hot toddy and then slowly sip it. I still do that today when I catch colds from traveling. Might just be my imagination but it does seem to work better than any cough and cold medicine I can buy in the drugstore.
1 cup water
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
2 oranges (one for rind/one for garnish)
Thoroughly clean surface of oranges. Using a vegetable peeler, pare the outer rind from one orange. Add water, cloves, cinnamon, and orange rind to a kettle. Bring water to slow boil.
Stir in sugar until dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Add wine to kettle and heat (do not boil!).
Slice second orange into thin rounds.
Pour glühwein into mugs through a sieve to remove spices and orange peel. Add one orange round to each mug and serve.
Recipe makes 4-5 mugs of glühwein.