I’ve always envied the European ideal of Christmas – families gather in front of a roaring fire, with steaming spiced wine scenting the house, and an endless stream of hot food coming out of the kitchen. In Australia, however, Christmas is usually a hot affair, with cold seafood platters and the ol’ barbecue fired up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you, like me, enjoy the greener grass on the other side once in a while, you too might be tempted to celebrate Christmas In July!
I’m not sure where the tradition started, but it sure makes sense. After all, why can’t we have the best of both worlds?
So besides the usual hot chocolate, I thought you might like to try some Gluhwein – German for “glowing wine”, and often sold at Christmas markets. Every region, seller, household has a different take on this, and the results can range from sickeningly sweet to heavily spiced. Or both. Either way, I like it fruity and balanced, which resulted in this recipe. Feel free to change it up however you like – other common spices can include star anise, cardamom and ginger, much like a cup of Chai, and Gluhwein vendors often have sachets of sugar for their customers to make the wine as sweet as they want.
And why is it called “glowing wine”? Well, according to some, it’s because the alcohol gets to your head so fast that you feel like you’re glowing!
- 750ml Red Wine (we used One Road, South Australian Shiraz, 2012, RRP $6.99)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 oranges
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 20 cloves
- Zest the oranges into a pot. Juice one of the oranges into the same post, and add the cinnamon sticks and sugar.
- Dissolve the sugar into the juice over low heat.
- Then empty the bottle of red wine into a large pot and pour in the orange juice and spice mixture. Stud the remaining zested orange with cloves, and sit the orange in the wine.
- Over a small flame, heat the wine till it's lightly steaming. Then cover, and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
- Strain the wine, and reheat as desired to serve.
- In Germany, Gluhwein sellers provide sachets of sugar for you to add to your cup as you desire. Because of this, we decided to add a sugar rim, using a wedge of orange to wet the rim of the glass, and dipping it in a plate of sugar.
- Drink this wine slowly, as the heat intensifies the effect of the alcohol.