There are a lot of things to love about Christmastime in Germany, and this blog post is about one of my favorites: Glühwein. You might have seen (or tried) this at some point (one can pay excessively for it at the Chicago Christkindlmarkt), but if you haven’t, you’re missing out. It’s basically heated, spiced wine; usually red wine with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, various kinds of citrus, and sugar, though you can put other things in it or use white wine or something like that.
It is the drink of choice at any decent Weihnachts- or Christkindlmarkt, especially in central Europe. Every one of the six major Christkindlmärkte in Munich has multiple stands selling it (the “medieval” Christmas market calls it Drachenglut, German for “dragon fire,” which I thought was cool), and for good reason: it is delicious. It’s the sort of drink that warms your core right away, and it has the added benefit of warming up your hands while you hold the decorative mug it usually comes in. But it’s not the taste or the temperature of Glühwein that I love the most, but rather its magical healing powers.
I had never had Glühwein until my first trip to Germany in 2007. Shortly before I left, my friends and I went out to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Freiburg-im-Breisgau. One of my friends had a rather bad cold, but as it was the last night for several of us, she toughed it out and came along. We all got some Glühwein to start off the festivities. We were barely two sips into the experience when my friend reported, “Hey, I think I feel a little bit better.” A few sips later, she said “No, seriously, I feel like a lot better.” By the time we finished, she exclaimed, “Really, you guys, I can breathe again!” And lest you think that this was just an isolated incident, Stephanie reported that her cold abated when we had Glühwein at home not a week ago.
Experiences like this (along with its tastiness), has made Glühwein the holiday equivalent of pretzels for me: I try it everywhere and anywhere I can. If you don’t believe me, check out these pictures…
…see? I told you. So do yourself a favor and try to track down some Glühwein this season. It’s good for you!