Before the first snow fell in Dresden, Germany, the Striezelmarkt (Dresden's Christmas market) was already set up and with it, vendors with all different kinds of Glhwein.It was at the market my love for Glhwein, hot mulled wine, was first kindled. The drink proved its resilience through almost all social interactions, from soccer games to having company over, to walks in the woods. When it was cold, any reason was a good reason to sip a mug of the pungent wine with friends and family.When I came back state-side, there were no vendors selling Glhwein, no store sold it pre-made for a few dollars and the persuasiveness of open-container laws stymied the ability to walk around with a mug of the red stuff. When winter hit, the house I was living in never made it above 50 degrees. I realized something had to be done and that something was to make sure that a steaming mug for myself and my roommates were always at the ready. I had to learn how to make Glhwein myself. I started by looking toward Germany for recipes and to the Internet. Through much trial and error, but not enough error to keep it from being quaffable, I was able to mull a recipe. I suggest using whole spices, which I found in the ethnic aisle or at Hispanic grocery stores. Whole spices, instead of their ground counter-parts, greatly reduce the amount of sediment in the wine. Crushed or ground spices work but will leave a much greater quantity of unsavory residue. I broke away from the traditional thinking by using orange juice and a few slices of fresh orange, instead of whole oranges. Too much pith and rind in the wine while its mulling tends to bitter the drink drastically.German recipes often times call for a cut up lemon, and so instead, I suggest using lemon juice. However, experiment to see what works for you.When it comes to sugar, add it in a little at a time, to taste. Too much will kill all flavor but enough is needed to bring out the spices and to balance them out. The final sugar quantity depends on how sweet the wine is and one's taste.Glhwein is normally hot, mulled red wine but white wine varieties are gaining popularity at German Christmas markets and can be just as tasty, although white wine can be much less forgiving than red. Sweet white wine works, but not Moscato sweet.Lastly, this recipe is merely a guideline. Each wine, each taste and each time is different. Find out what works for you. If scaling the recipe up, be careful with how much spice is added. A heartier red works well, although I suggest staying away from Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheaper is usually better because the mulling decimates the nuance of the wine.Decent boxed wine or jug wine often works wonders on the palate, the brain and the wallet.Extra Glhwein should be refrigerated and I heat up a mug at a time in the microwave.Ingredients:1 liter red wine1 cup orange juice2 orange slices2 full cinnamon sticks (4 half-sticks)10 allspice (1 to 2 teaspoons ground)10 cloves (1 to 11⁄2 teaspoons ground)1 Star Anise3 tablespoons lemon juice1⁄2 a nutmeg (1 to 2 teaspoons ground)3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed5 half-inch slices of fresh ginger, quartered1⁄8-1⁄4 cup sugarDirections: Put all the ingredients in a pot over low heat. Keep a lid partially on the pot to prevent it from boiling. Keep the pot on low heat 1-3 hours and serve. The key to mulling is to heat up the ingredients without boiling off the alcohol.
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