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Port wine gluhwein is a unique and excellent take on gluhwein, or mulled spiced wine. We can always count on the English to have a good time, which is why the history of Port wine has its origins there. English merchants transporting wine out of Portugal added brandy to the wine in order to keep it from degrading during export. This is how port wine got its name and reputation as a strong drink. The British continued to enjoy port wine throughout the years, and it eventually became a symbol of status and wealth. 

The addition of brandy stops the fermentation process by killing yeast and capping the sugar level of the wine. This helps preserve the wine for longer periods and also creates a sweater, more potent beverage.

For this reason, making Gluhwein with Port Wine is an excellent alternative to traditional wines. It allows you to dramatically reduce or eliminate all together the sugar content. Traditional Gluhwein recipes call for at least 1/2 cup of sugar. 

What is Gluhwein?

Glühwein (pronounced glue – vine), mulled wine, mulled spiced wine, or Glogg are all variations on the same beverage – heated wine seasoned with sweet and aromatic spices. These spices include, to name a few, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange, and allspice.

There are many recipes for Glühwein, but the traditional Glühwein recipe calls for heating wine with sugar and spices. Wine is simmered with cinnamon sticks, cloves, citrus peel, cardamom pods and sugar. The addition of these warming spices makes Glühwein the perfect drink for chilly winter evenings.

Although red wine is traditionally used, one can substitue fruit wines to bring out a different flavor profile and even Port wine to create a mulled spiced wine that’s healthier by skimping or cutting out the sugar all together.

Making Gluhwein with Port wine is easy, and all you need to do is substitute the wine and only use sugar to taste. The brandy fortified Port wine already is a more naturally sweetened beverage so you can add dashes, not cups of sugar to your recipe. Besides changing the wine and the sugar, the rest of the ingredients remain the same. 

The final beverage will take on the characteristics of Port wine, lush, thick, complex and full of flavor, especially when combined with spices.

Recommended Port Wines

There are two main types of Port wine – Tawny and Ruby.


Tawny port is a type of port wine that has been aged in wooden barrels, often for decades. This exposure to oxygen gives tawny port its characteristic brownish color. Although tawny port is initially quite sweet, the aging process causes some of the sweetness to be replaced by more complex flavors.

Ruby port is a type of port wine that has not been exposed to oxygen during aging. As a result, it retains its deep red color. Ruby port is usually sweeter and less complex than tawny port.

When choosing a port wine for your gluhwein, we recommend going with a tawny port. The added complexity from the aging process will add an extra dimension of flavor to your gluhwein. 

Port Wine Gluhwein Recipe

  • 1 bottle Port win
  • Dash sugar to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 allspice
  • 1 star anise (optional)

Steps to make Port Wine Gluhwein:

1. Put all of the ingredients into a pot over med-low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. 

2. You want to ensure your gluhwein is piping hot before serving. 

3. The best method of determining if the wine is hot enough is the ol’ finger test. Stick a finger in and if the gluhwein is hot, you’re good. 

A note here. PLEASE DON’T BE SILLY. DON’T BURN YOURSELF BECAUSE THAT CAN HAPPEN. This temperature range help release the aromas of the spices without making the drink too hot. You also don’t want it burning the roof of your mouth off. 

4. At that point, turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for about 10 minutes.  This will give time for the ingredients to mix and meld.

5. You can then either strain it or serve it as is. 

6. If you want to keep it warm, put it back on the stove over low heat. 

7. Serve in mugs or glasses with pitted cherry, orange, or cinnamon stick