Last Tuesday brought an s-load of snow to the East End of Long Island. There was no way I could get from my home in Sag Harbor Village to the Dan’s Papers offices in Southampton on Wednesday morning. There were insurmountable obstacles that included an unplowed driveway, roads of frozen moonscape and seven dangerously slushy-icy turns (four rights and three lefts).
So I stayed home safe and warm to write this column, a restaurant review and a cookbook review.
I have many ideas in my head for column topics, too many. I wrote up the restaurant review (Jedediah Hawkins Inn) and finished reading the cookbook and it was mid-afternoon. Cabin fever time. There’s one reliable cure for the ennui brought on by storms of global warming proportion. Remarkably it was developed in the magical land of Prussia centuries ago. One word, two syllables: Glühwein. (Pronounced glue-vine.)
My husband and I discovered this cure while touring Nüremburg in December 1996—during their coldest winter in 30 years. Glühwein, a warm, spiced wine, is traditionally served during the Christmas holidays in small, handled mugs. Christmas should be celebrated in our hearts every day, right? The warmth bakes the buzz right in. Luckily we had the components at hand to make enough glühwein for two generous servings. A snow day miracle! I soldiered on with my writing, glühwein in hand. Wonder if we could run these ingredients through the coffee maker at work…
It all starts with a bottle of bad red wine, in this case a half bottle of very bad red wine. Specifically, a leftover bottle of Midnight Moon Red Finger Lakes Table Wine from Eagle Crest Vineyards that I had taken to an editorial department party. (It was a gift from family upstate.)
If ever you want to test just how bad a bottle of wine is, take it to a get-together of the Dan’s Papers editorial department. If they don’t drink it, no one will. So with some spices, an orange and this half bottle I concocted a pleasant afternoon’s elixir.
Here’s my recipe for glühwein—Prost!
Stacy’s Snow Day Glühwein
1 bottle bad and/or cheap sweet red wine*
1 orange (juice and peel)
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon verjus or lemon juice
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
*if your bad and/or cheap red wine happens to be dry, double the sugar and omit the verjus
Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar or honey. Bring to a bare simmer, reduce heat to lowest setting. Leave to steep for 1 hour. Pour into cups through wire mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Enjoy.
Why, yes, my friends, you can double or duodecuple this recipe.
Why is it called “glühwein?” It’s “glow-wine,” from the hot irons used for mulling wines in olden times. Don’t try this at home. Glühwein is sometimes consumed “mit Schuss”—with a shot of rum or other liquor. Only try this among friends.
A popular variant of glühwein is Feuerzangenbowle. It includes the same ingredients, plus a rum-soaked sugarloaf that’s set on fire and allowed to drip into the wine. I might go “feuerzangenbowle” if I had four or more snow days in a row.
Over the weekend I went to Water Street Wines & Spirits in Sag Harbor for a bottle of “bad red wine.” Owner Marc Cohen took over the business a few years ago, nowadays all the wine is good—so I asked for his cheapest red and we settled on Crane Lake’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Though not a bad wine at all, it made a fine glühwein. And it’s only $13.99 for a magnum. We used half for glühwein and my husband will happily drink the rest as-is.