The Christmas markets in Germany are just amazing. Apparently, the Nuremberg markets are the best, but the ones in Munich and Passau are pretty awesome. Every Christmas market has Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Christmas ornaments, Flammbrot (amazing flat breads with cheese and bacon and onions and all sorts of other toppings), but most importantly: Gluehwein. I'm sure most people are familiar with mulled or spiced wine. Although I have to admit, I've never had American-style spiced wine. But when I had the Gluehwein in Germany, I was blown away. Each stall has their own mugs that the wine comes in; some are these cute little boot-shaped mugs, some are just standard Christmasy mugs, and others say the name of the Christmas market. But no matter what it comes in, German spiced wine is steaming hot and full of flavor. It was so good, I brought home two liters of the stuff for my parents that year.
Gluehwein (German Spiced Wine)
For each 750 mL bottle of wine:
1 bottle of cheap-ish red wine (tonight we're using Barefoot brand merlot)
1 stick of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 whole orange
2 T sugar
1 cardamon pod (optional, I have also used 1 t ground cardamon)
1 of (optional):
In a saucepot over medium-low heat, combine wine, spices, sugar and orange slices. Heat for 30-60 minutes, covered, DO NOT BOIL. Heating for longer will bring out more of the spices and as long as you don't boil the wine, you won't lose too much alcohol. Taste the wine and adjust the sugar if needed. Serve with one of the orange slices and, if desired, a shot of liquor/schnapps.
Remove the spices and reduce the heat to low if all of the wine is not served right away. If there are leftovers, carefully pour back into the bottle and refrigerate. To re-heat, simply heat on medium-low heat in a saucepot as before.