The bitter cold winter weather makes mulled wine a coffeehouse staple that stays on the menu until springtime warmth is well established. It is served from stands at the outdoor Christmas markets throughout Vienna—a necessary evil if ever there was one. The hint of vanilla in this version makes it extraordinary.
There are a few caveats to making great Glühwein. First, start with a fruity wine that’s not too dry or full-bodied. Be sure to use a nonreactive pot (stainless steel or enameled iron), because the wine will react with unlined aluminum and acquire a metallic taste. Never let the wine come to a boil. If you’re serving from the kitchen, a heat diffuser under the pot will be helpful; but I’ve seen many a Viennese corner Glühwein stand that serves its product from an electric slow cooker, and that’s the best way because it eliminates the danger of boiling. Because mulled wine is such a popular party drink, I’ve given crowd-size proportions.