As Christmas approaches, conversations in the kitchen inevitably turn to holiday plans, which Christmas songs we hate the most (Last Christmas, any artist), which Christmas songs we actually like (Charley Pride – Christmas in my Hometown), and fond childhood memories. One topic I hear coming up over and over is the Chriskindlmarket, the stories are usually the same and include some combination of unique gifts, spiced nuts, bratwurst, and mulled wine. After three years of living in the city, I'd never been, but hearing all these stories made me realize I was missing out on something and I knew it was time for me to check it out.
I walked over to the market after work with one of my colleagues. Within minutes of arriving we were sipping Glühwein and laughing with strangers. We did all the things I'd hear people talk about, sampled spiced nuts, checked out all the shops, ate some Leberkase with sauerkraut, and then, suddenly, it was over, and we were walking back down the street to the train station... but no, it couldn't just end like that, I wanted more, there had to more.
Well, there was. I went back again, and hopefully will make even more trips before the season is over, but, more importantly, I was determined to make mulled wine at home. I mean, I had this fancy mug now, it's not big enough for coffee and I've got to do something with it, right?
First of all, let me me say, I'm not the first person to handle this topic. The Chriskindlmarket has been a source of inspiration for Chopping Bloggers for several years now. If you want to learn how to make Glühwein, Chef Hans Mooser wrote a great blog about it, and I don't see the need to reproduce what's already been done. No, I'm not going to tell you how to mull wine, I'm going to tell you why you should be mulling your wine.
So, here are five reasons you should be making Gluhwein this Christmas:
- It's a tradition, a very old and widespread one, as much a part of the holiday as good food and bad music. Most European countries have some variation of mulled wine they serve in the winter months, but when you break it down, they're all pretty much the same, and for good reason: it works.
- Another common topic of conversation around The Chopping Block is how to reduce food waste. Obviously, wine is included in that as we always have a lot of bottles open and sometimes it's hard to serve it all before it goes bad. When this happens you can always use it for cooking wine, but even then, how much cooking wine do you really need? Things like mulled wine and sangria are great ways to add life to a bottle that's past its prime.
- Like I said, you've already got this mug and it's too small to drink coffee out of, what else are you going to do with it. Nothing, that's what. So, you better mull some wine to justify having yet another mug in your cabinet.
- It's cold outside. Warm drinks make you feel not cold. It's science.
- One of your relatives is going to bring a bad bottle of wine to Christmas dinner, what are you going to do? Drink it? No, you know they just picked it up at Walgreens on the way in, you've seen that label before, back when you were in college, it's going to be terrible. Time for plan B, add some sugar and spices and let's heat that thing up on the stove. Now everybody's happy.
It was easy for me to see why the Christkindlmarket is such a treasured memory for so many people (and why it's inspired so many blogs at The Chopping Block), just like mulled wine, it's an old traditional recipe: good food, warm drinks, and time spent with friends. There's no reason you can't make that same recipe in your own home, and if you need help with the food part, there are still plenty of holiday cooking classes on the books.