Glühwein in ma Belly! | Matroosberg

By Glou Glou  •  Jul 9, 2015 at 11:31am  •  Reviews, Reviews

Having returned happily back to the city of Cape Town just a few weeks ago, Gosia has found herself rediscovering the land of tin camping mugs, biltong, her beloved friends and of course the Cape winelands, which have taken on a new shine following her fresh-off-the-boat wine knowledge. Unluckily, this is also her third winter in a row, and so she’s gotten pretty savvy at attempting to circumnavigate the cold in ingenious ways. When the Cape Doctor winds slap her reddened cheeks, winter now calls for only one thing – glühwein.

Glüh-what? It’s a heated, spiced red wine, and literally means glow wine, from the hot irons which were used for mulling back in the day. In Europe, glühwein is accessible at almost all winter markets, especially over Christmas, traditionally attracting passersby with its spiced scent and emanating heat. As the name suggests, it’s a beverage most popular in German-speaking countries, but it has origins in Britain, Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland and even Rome, with the first recorded wine being heated and spiced over 19 centuries ago.

In South Africa, the hot wine is a little less known, mostly because we don’t have such harsh winters and the tradition has never really been culturally adopted. But stirring up a large pot to share with friends for a dinner party or weekend away is just about the best winter warmer we can think of.

Following an invitation from a dear friend and nature-loving Adel, a group of twelve made their way to Matroosberg, a nature reserve high up in the Cederberg mountains. Once a year, Matroosberg turns into South African snow hunter’s mecca, offering the rare but occasional glimpse of shimmering white flakes. There’s even a ski lift and ski hut, and even though there was no snow when we went and no one even knows how to ski, we sported our best knitted sweaters and decided to celebrate Christmas in July. Yes, because we can.

Making glühwein is simple, fun and quick. All it took was entering ‘glühwein’ into our search tab to find scores of varying mulled wine recipes, all a little different, but after further inspection, pretty much exactly the same. We decided to keep it as simple as possible, as this was a remote cabin at the foothills of the mountain after all, and supplies were scarce. Your key ingredient is wine wine glorious wine, mixed with cinnamon, cloves, lemon and sugar. The trick? Never ever bring your wine to the boil. Follow our easy recipe to make enough glühwein for 12 happy people (about 2 mugs each):

Glühwein (for 12 people)

1 x box red wine (5l)
1 x  lemon
4 x sticks of cinnamon
6 x cloves
4 x cardamom pods
6 x tbsp of brown sugar
6 to 8 slices of orange


  1. Slowly heat the red wine in a large pot (don’t bring to the boil at any point as this will cause the alcohol to evaporate).
  2. Slice the lemon and orange and add it to the wine along with the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise and sugar.
  3. Stir slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes (again, don’t allow it to boil).
  4. Remove the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise and lemon slices.
  5. Pour into individual mugs (a ladle works well) and add a slice of orange if you wish. Serve hot.

We shouted ‘GLÜHWEIN EVERYONE!’ and as our friends eagerly crowded about, we handed out overflowing mugs of hot glühwein. Soon, the cabin was jolly, and after one or two cups, our Jenga precision was faltering. We huddled around the fire and spoke about life, aliens and everything else. Because every season is the season to be jolly.
PS. A kind thank you to Adel who helped take these photos and gave us the use of her camera while Gosia went on the hunt for a new and improved version of her own.

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