Spiced Wine for Winter

Feuerzangenbowle is a traditional German alcoholic drink, often part of a Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition. The name translates literally as “fire-tongs punch”, and is an old-time tradition of brewing mulled wine that is later enriched with rum and caramelized sugar. This dark, powerfully sweet punch is easy to drink and can instantly defrost guests arriving at holiday parties or spending time chatting outdoors at a festive Christmas market.

I’ve never heard of this drink until my first visit to Germany during the holiday season. This potent potion is a holiday institution and was even immortalized in a German film called “Die Feuerzangenbowle” which is oftentimes televised while family members or friends re-enact or ladle out mugs of the pre-made wine. A typical end of November through December party kick-off beverage, young Germans start a long night of cheerful celebrations just as we might start our parties with hot hard cider or a chilled glass of eggnog.

When I host my yearly holiday party, I always pass on the cookies in place of a small, steamy mug – my once-a-year splurge of this essential holiday drink that my husband can just not do without. He insists on serving it each and every year, and takes special pride and delight serving it to unsuspecting guests who don’t typically like mixed drinks. It makes the whole house smell like “Christmas” to him and by the end of the evening the pot is empty and cheeks are blushing.