Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Special Holiday Glow

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, so while others flock to the mall, I’m nesting for much of the holiday season and continuing my personal exploration of Christmas culinary customs from around the world.

The rain and sleet pound against the windows, so I turn up the tree lights and turn on the radio, where George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is being broadcast live from lower Manhattan. It’s the perfect afternoon for a steaming glass of Gluhwein.

Gluhwein from Germany is a hot, spiced wine that is the European continental cousin to wassail, the classic Christmas punch from Great Britain. Gluhwein is a favorite in Munich, where hoards of shoppers huddle over hot mugs, while browsing the outdoor Christmas markets. There, they sample seasonal foods and can purchase Christmas ornaments, gifts, and the traditional Christmas stollen.

I improvise a recipe for Gluhwein from several versions of the drink:


1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
One lemon, sliced
One orange, slice
2 sticks of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
A pinch of cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and heat until steaming. Do not boil. Heat for about 5 minutes, and then remove from the heat and let stand for one hour. Reheat before serving, and strain. Pour into glasses or mugs and add fruit slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish.

The cup is fragrant with spice and warm tannins and a vibrant hint of tart citrus. It is definitely worth rejoicing over, and the Hallelujah Chorus chimes in right on cue.

As I’m igniting my holiday spirit in New York, my fearless, globe-trotting colleague BD has arrived in the city of Munich, just in time to visit the Christmas Market. In the style of a seasoned foreign correspondent, he offers dispatches and photos from the actual Medieval Christmas Market in Munich, where Gluhwein is the celebratory drink of the month:

BD writes:

“Here is further proof that I'm a lousy photographer, but you may be able to make something of these - all in the “Medieval Market” or Christmas Market, near Odeonplatz, in the heart of Munich … absolutely jammed, 20 minute wait for wine, but cheery atmosphere prevailing, though very cold ...brisk here but festive - and yes, the wine (while expensive, 26 euros for three glasses) does leave one with that special wintry inner illumination.”

BD leaves me with one final message for the holidays: “Glow for it!!!”

By the way, in case you hadn’t figured it out, Gluhwein, is translated as “Glow Wine” because it leaves you with that special glow.

May your holiday celebrations glow with happiness!

©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

A wonderful post -- I always learn something new from you. I'd heard of gluhwein but didn't know what it was. Now I understand where that glow comes from! Happy holidays, TW.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the glowing report on Gluhwein T.W.

Veron said...

I have never heard of gluhwein, but like Lydia I always learn something new. Seems your friend is having fun in Munich! Happy Holidays , T.W. !

Jann said...

That's why we glow~now I know.....would enjoy sipping a glass and making a toast to you! This looks very inviting! Thanks...