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Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein: Savoring the Differences

Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Lydia Martin

You’ll agree that there’s a certain magic in the air when the chill of winter sets in. In my cozy kitchen, the fruity aromas of spiced wine often fill the air, bringing warmth and cheer.

But speaking of spiced drinks, two wines often come to mind: mulled wine and Gluhwein.

While both have their unique charm, how do they differ? Is one superior to the other, or just the same? To ease the confusion, let me compare mulled wine vs Gluhwein and find out which reigns supreme!

Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein: A Detailed Comparison

Glass of Gluhwein

At first glance, traditional mulled wine and Gluhwein seem pretty similar, both offering a warm, spiced wine experience ideal for cold evenings. But what’s the difference between mulled wine and Glühwein?

Mulled wine, a broad term for spiced wine, is popular in many recipes or variations across different cultures. Glühwein, on the other hand, is a German variation with a distinctive recipe.

While both use red wine as their base, the main difference between mulled wine and Glühwein is their mulling spices, sweetness, and additional flavors.

German Gluhwein often includes a specific mix of ingredients and may feature more robust orange flavors and aromas.

“Gluhwein blends warmth, wine, and winter’s embrace.” – Liquor Laboratory 

Mulled wine, however, varies greatly depending on the region and personal preferences, sometimes incorporating a more comprehensive range of flavorings, like orange slices, anise, bay leaves, and other spices. But how long does mulled wine last?

Gluhwein vs Mulled Wine Comparison Table

AspectMulled WineGlühwein
OriginGlobal, with variationsGermany
Base WineUsually red wine, sometimes whiskey and other spiritsPrimarily red wine, sometimes white wine
SpicesCinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and moreCinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom
CitrusOptional, often orangeOften includes orange or lemon
SweetenersSugar, honey, or noneSugar, sometimes maple syrup
Additional IngredientsVaries widely, usually nutmeg and cinnamon sticksOccasionally, brandy or rum
Cultural UseWinter holiday, Christmas seasonChristmas market, festive season
ServingWarm, not boilingTraditionally warm
Star Rating★★★★☆★★★★★

Are Mulled Wine & Gluhwein The Same Thing?

Glühwein and mulled wines can be the same thing since they’re from the same category – hot, spiced wine.

Despite this aspect, there’s a clear difference between mulled wine and Glühwein, including their components and flavors.

German Gluhwein [1], a traditional drink in Germany, is a specific type of mulled wine. This wine has a more delicate taste with a defined set of ingredients and cooking methods.

In contrast, mulled is a broader term encompassing many recipes and traditions worldwide, each with its unique taste and twist on how they’re served and spiced.


Key Differences


Mulled wines have a history that spans many cultures and centuries, with each region adding its unique touch.

Mulled wine, known in Britain as the seasoned wine variant, is akin to Germany’s Glühwein. Originally termed “muddled” in Old English, the British version is now popularly referred to as mulled wine.

Glühwein wine, meanwhile, has deep roots in German-speaking countries, closely tied to their Christmas traditions.

Its name, meaning “glowing wine,” likely comes from the old method of using hot irons for mulling.

Originating possibly from ancient Egypt for medicinal use, the practice of spicing vinos was popularized by the Romans, who spread it across Europe.

This led to various regional versions, like Spanish Sangria and Nordic Glogg, with Germany’s Glühwein becoming a yuletide tradition.


Person Making German Mulled Wine

There’s a difference in the preparation of these drinks. The preparation of mulled drinks varies widely, allowing for personalization.

Here’s the mulled recipe:

  • Dry red wine
  • Cinnamons
  • Allspice (whole)
  • Whole cloves
  • Orange rind
  • Sugar

Begin by combining all the ingredients except the sweetener and gently heat them. After heating, incorporate the sweetener and let the mixture cook or simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

In contrast, Gluhwein follows a more time-honored recipe, often adhering to specific spice blends and techniques.

Gluhwein is created when you heat wine with fruits and seasonings, imparting a unique flavor and taste.

For a homemade Gluhwein wine, here’s how you can go about it:

  • Red wine
  • Water
  • Vanilla bean
  • Anise
  • Cinnamons
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Organic oranges
  • Sugar

Slice clean and dried oranges into thick rounds and insert cloves into them. In a saucepan, mix the wine with water and boil it gently.

As the mixture warms, add the oranges (or orange juice), the vanilla bean seeds, and all other seasonings. Allow these to heat slowly, infusing the flavor for 20 minutes on low fire.

Afterward, remove the spices and fruit. You may choose to strain the wine into the glass for a smoother texture. It is usually served hot.

Sweetness Level

Sweetness in mulled wines can range from dry to quite sweet, depending on the recipe. But the classic mulled was significantly less sweet compared to the modern version.

Conversely, German Gluhwein wine tends to have a consistent level of sweetness, usually on the higher side to balance the spices.

But despite the minor difference, I can say that Glühwein wine and today’s mulled are adaptations of the spiced, hot beverage flavors our ancestors savored.

But what does mulled wine really taste like?


Vanilla is more commonly found in mulled variations, adding a depth of flavor. Most Gluhwein wine recipes omit vanilla, focusing on the clarity of herbs.

Addition Of Alcoholic Shots

Gluhwein and mulled wines sometimes include a shot of brandy or rum for extra warmth and depth.

But a mulled one allows the use of various spirits, like vodka, bourbon whiskey, cognac, and orange liqueur, depending on your preference, for the alcohol content.

Recipe Variations

Glass of Mulled Wine with Star Anise and Slice of Lemon

Mulled boasts a wide array of recipes or variations, reflecting local tastes and traditions. Some drinkers add nutmeg or infuse it with bay leaf and ginger for an extra taste.

If you like the classic twist, consider swapping sugar for molasses and tossing in a few almonds and raisins.

Gluhwein wine, in contrast, sticks closer to its classic recipe [2] with fewer variations. Mind you, some people serve Gluhwein using white vino, though it’s not that popular compared to the red counterpart.


Spiced wine, especially a mulled beverage, is widely available in various forms globally.

“One of our favorite things to do in the Alps was to go up the ski lift, hang out with friends and drink Glühwein,” Anand Saha, Owner of Mozart’s Cafe

In comparison, Glühwein is more regionally specific, often associated with German Christmas markets and festive occasions.


Mulled wines [3] enjoy popularity in many countries, each with its own version, while Gluhwein holds a special place in Germanic cultures, especially during the holiday season.

Gluhwein’s popularity peaks during the holiday season, whereas mulled ones are enjoyed in many regions year-round.

Overall, mulled drinks have broader appeal due to their diverse regional interpretations, while Glühwein is a festive, cultural hallmark.

Mulled Wine vs Glühwein Wine Taste

Mulled wine and Glühwein share similarities in taste as they both involve heating red wine with a blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and citrus. However, the specific spices and variations in recipes can lead to nuanced differences.

Mulled wine, often associated with English-speaking regions, may include additional ingredients like nutmeg or vanilla. Glühwein, the German counterpart, may favor a spicier profile with an emphasis on cloves.

Ultimately, taste preferences play a significant role, and both beverages offer a warm and comforting flavor profile ideal for chilly weather.

Mulled Wine vs Glühwein vs Spiced Wine

Mulled wine, Glühwein, and spiced wine are often used interchangeably to describe the same category of heated and seasoned wine beverages. The differences are more regional and cultural than substantive.

While “mulled wine” is a broader term, encompassing various regional preparations, “Glühwein” specifically refers to the German version. “Spiced wine” is a generic term that captures the essence of both, emphasizing the infusion of spices into the wine during preparation.

Mulled Wine vs Glühwein Taste

Mulled wine and Glühwein share a warm and spiced taste, making them quintessential winter beverages. While their base ingredients are similar—red wine infused with spices—the subtle distinctions in regional recipes contribute to variations in taste.

Mulled wine, often associated with English-speaking traditions, might include a broader array of spices like nutmeg or ginger.

In contrast, Glühwein, a German specialty, may emphasize spices such as cloves and star anise, offering a slightly different flavor profile. Both are enjoyed for their comforting and aromatic qualities, making them beloved choices during the colder months.

Mulled Wine vs Glühwein Alcoholic

Mulled wine and Glühwein, being heated and spiced versions of red wine, maintain their alcoholic content. The alcohol in these beverages adds depth to their flavors and contributes to the warming sensation. The alcoholic base of the wine is retained unless the drink undergoes additional processes like distillation. Whether mulled wine or Glühwein, the alcohol content remains a key characteristic, and the choice between the two often comes down to personal taste preferences and regional traditions.

Mulled Wine vs Glühwein Alcohol Content

The alcohol content in mulled wine and Glühwein is primarily determined by the type of red wine used as the base. Both beverages maintain a similar alcohol content to the original wine before heating. Generally, mulled wine and Glühwein are not significantly more or less alcoholic than the red wine they are made from. While the heating process may cause slight evaporation, it doesn’t substantially alter the overall alcohol content. The choice between mulled wine and Glühwein often hinges on flavor preferences, regional traditions, and the specific spices infused into each variant.

FAQs Related to Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein

What is the primary difference between mulled wine and Glühwein?

While both mulled wine and Glühwein are warm, spiced wine beverages, the primary difference lies in their origin and traditional recipes. Mulled wine is a European tradition, while Glühwein specifically refers to mulled wine popular in German-speaking countries.

How does the flavor of mulled wine compare to Glühwein?

Mulled wine and Glühwein share similar flavor profiles, characterized by warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise, along with citrus and sometimes additional sweeteners. However, Glühwein may have variations in spices and ingredients specific to German traditions.

Is there a difference in the preparation method of mulled wine and Glühwein?

The preparation methods for mulled wine and Glühwein are generally similar, involving heating red wine with spices and often adding citrus and sweeteners. However, Glühwein may include variations in spices or additional ingredients based on regional preferences.

Can I use any type of red wine to make mulled wine or Glühwein?

Both mulled wine and Glühwein can be made using various types of red wine, although traditional recipes often call for a medium to full-bodied red wine. However, personal preferences and regional traditions may influence the choice of wine used.

Which one is more commonly associated with Christmas markets?

Glühwein is more commonly associated with Christmas markets, especially in German-speaking countries and regions. It’s a popular beverage choice at these festive markets during the holiday season.

Final Thoughts

Both mulled wines and Glühwein provide a delightful way to enjoy the winter season. With its vast array of recipes, Mulled wine caters to a broader palate and allows for creativity.

But I prefer Gluhwein wine more as it’s steeped in tradition, providing a consistent and heartwarming experience, especially around the holidays.

Ultimately, the choice between these easy recipes comes down to personal preference or the occasion.

Gluhwein shines for a traditional, festive experience, while mulled wine is perfect for those who enjoy experimenting with flavors. So, go get your glass now and savor the wine [4] you like best!


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