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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More Content, As Promised: Gluhwein

Petra Post-Gluhwein Smile
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I love a German Christmas. In honour of the Silly Season, people put candles in the window sills, eat delicious cookies and the drink gluhwein. I experienced the joys of the weinachtsmarkt many many moons ago visiting Germany when I was fortunate enough to meet Petra. This is Petra at the opening of the weinachtsmarkt near her home. These go on, it seems, in most urban centers and mostly they sell seasonal knick knacks, crafts, foods etc. [Petra: feel free to correct/elaborate at any time.] Petra is holding a mug of gluhwein and is clearly quite happy about it too!

Gluhwein also goes by the name of mulled wine in North America, I believe, and something similar is called gløg in Denmark, according to Tudi. It's a potent blend of red wine warmed with earthy spices like orange peel and cinnamon. It's sweet and it's joyous. For all my praises of this fine seasonal beverage my first experience of it was less than salubrious.

Shall I go on?

I went out to the weinachtsmarkt in Stuttgart with a couple of friends some time in December many years ago. I was in this lovely outdoor market soaking in the uncringing authenticity of it all but it WAS December, so I was fairly chilled. We came upon the gluhwein and being the cosmopolitan creature that I am, I had to try some eve though I seldom drank alcohol. Let me repeat: there was a time when I seldom drank alcohol.

Stamping my feet against the cold and wrapping my hands around this delicious mug was just where I wanted to be. We downed our gluhwein and made our way to our dinner destination - a fabulous Turkish restaurant called "Litfass". It was semi-basement with long communal type tables and walls of royal blue and gold. It was, as always, full to brimming. We were seated - rather perched - at the end of a long table. Part way through the first course, I start to feel a bit off. Slightly claustrophobic and strangely antsy so I excuse myself to go to the washroom and leave the table.

I made it about 6 paces - as far as the bar - where I fainted. This was, the first and only time I have ever spontaneously lost consciousness. I don't know how long I was out - I think it was only a minute or two - but I can say I have never felt euphoria like I did when I was laying on the floor of this restaurant. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the legs of bar stools and I thought, "What happened? Where am I?" The second thing I thought was, "What a fucking cliche! YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!"

Someone helped me up, we gathered our things and we left.

I have been able to drink the stuff since without incident so all's well that ends well. ("What a fucking cliche! You can do better than that!", says my internal editor.)

Thank you, Petra, for sending the photo. Give us an update on Berlin when you can!


At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can vouch for it being quite popular in Norway too. It is called Glogg there. Here is a recipe that my friends there gave me for it:


1 cup (2 1/2 dl) water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom seeds
2 cloves
1 heaped tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla sugar, or 2 tablespoons vanilla and 1/4 vanilla bean
1 bottle of red wine
1/2 (1 dl) vodka
1/2 cup (1 dl) almonds
1/4 cup (1/2 dl) raisins
1 orange, sliced

This is how you do it

In a small pot, bring the water to boil. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, honey and vanilla sugar to and mix it well. Let this sweet spice mixture boil for about 15 minutes to release the flavor of the spices.

Meanwhile, heat the red wine gently in a medium pot. Make sure it does not reach more than 78C, otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. Add 1/3 of the sweet spice mixture. Add almonds and raisins. Add more spice mixture to taste, until the mulled wine has the sweetness of your liking. Add the vodka. Add a slice of orange to each cup add mulled wine and serve.

My guess is that maybe the vodka helped you reach euphoria. :)


At 6:56 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Hey MD! Thanks for the recipe. I brought back some spice mixture when I was in Germany some years later and that is what I used when I made it here. Good to have the "from scractch" recipe.

It will come in handy for our own silly season festivities, I'm sure. Heh heh heh....


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