So there we were, at the airport in Ramstein, Germany, trying to check in with 6 bottles of German Glühwein. The German customs agent glared at us disapprovingly.

“Too much wine, you can’t board the plane. You must get rid of 4 bottles,” he said.

My dad, who had lived in Germany as an Army officer during the Cold War, flashed a smile and replied, “But Glühwein is not really wine, is it?”

The customs agent broke the facade, started laughing, and struck a deal: “Get rid of two, keep the rest.”

Glühwein, or mulled wine, is a German staple for Christmas Markets and après-ski. The recipe varies from region to region, but two factors remain uniform throughout the country:

  • Only crappy leftover wine is used
  • It’s hot

What does this mean for you? It means as long as you warm up some crappy red wine and add a few spices, fruits, and sugar . . . you have Glühwein!


Recipe (Time: 30 mins)*

*this recipe is recommended — feel free to change it up to your taste and/or spice availability

  • 1 bottle of cheap, dry red wine (Merlot or Zinfandel work the best)
  • 8-12 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange
  • 1 shot orange liquor
  • 2 whole star anise
  • ⅓ -½ cup maple syrup (depending on taste)
  • 1 shot whiskey or rum (optional)


Step 1: Cut the orange into slices.

Step 2: Add all the ingredients to a stainless steel pot. Simmer on low to medium (don’t burn the wine!) for 15-20 mins.

Step 3: Skim out spices. Serve in a ceramic cup.

Step 4: Enjoy on a snowy trail with your fellow wine hikers.