Hot wine makes for an ideal warming drink during winter, and for this reason it has become a traditional Christmas drink. Its recipes have developed to incorporate spices and flavors synonymous with Christmas as well as fruits such as apples and oranges, once traditionally found in Christmas stockings. There are actually several variants of hot wine, each originating from its own corner of the world.
A traditional drink during the Christmas period, German gluhwein is a spiced red wine served warm. Although strict recipes vary greatly between each region of Germany, gluhwein is usually flavored with spices more often used in making Christmas cake -- including allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon -- giving the drink its seasonal flavor. When being prepared, gluhwein is never allowed to boil and is simply heated up to a medium temperature. This allows the spices and fruits in the mixture to retain their distinct flavors.
Although the word is derived from German, the recipe for glogg comes from the Scandinavian region of Europe, specifically Norway and Sweden. Preperation of glogg begins the night before with the boiling of a mixture sugar, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel and ginger suspended in water. This mixture is then left to cool overnight, beside a separate container with raisins soaking in a shot of the maker's favorite spirit, which is added to the mixture in the morning along with red wine. The wine is then heated before serving. As well as being boiled early in the process, another difference between glogg and gluhwein is the fact that it is strained before serving, while gluhwein is left with the chunks of spice and fruit intact.
An eastern European variant of hot wine is the traditional Romanian beverage, vin fiert. With a name that literally means "hot wine," vin fiert is made using diced pieces of apple and mandarin oranges heated with red wine in a saucepan. Spices are added as the wine heats up but the mixture is never allowed to boil and is served just below boiling point. In Romania this drink is sometimes made using white wine rather than red.
Hot wine beverages are not confined to Europe; originating from Chile, Vino Navegado is a South American version of a winter classic. Using a similar recipe to the European recipes, Navegado adds thickly sliced oranges into the mixture. This wine is also never boiled, so as to retain the high alcohol content. Navegado means, literally, "sailed" in Spanish and is thought to refer to the difficulty of navigation after several mugs of vino navegado.
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