Does Gluhwein Go Bad?

Famous during Christmas in Germany and across Europe, Gluhwein can be homemade or come packed in bottles. And if you’re like us, you may have this spiced wine to spare once the holiday season is over. So, the number one question is, does Gluhwein go bad?

Like any wine, Gluhwein, even though rich in spices and sugar, can go bad over time. If you take a sip from the wine and it tastes extensively of vinegar, then it has gone bad. Consuming “bad” Gluhwein won’t technically make you sick, but it would taste foul.

Thus, it is crucial to know how to store it, both when it’s opened or unopened, so you can enjoy it the longest. Read on as we discuss when Gluhwein goes beyond the age of consumption and the right way to store the spiced concoction. 

gluhwein bottles

How Long Does Gluhwein Last

Gluhwein is the ultimate Christmas drink, and you often find yourself with a few bottles of spiced wine to store once the festivities end.

Don’t be worried, though.

If appropriately stored, sealed bottles of Gluhwein should last you several years. All you have to do is pop the bottle open and heat the wine back up gently (do not boil it) to enjoy it a year or more later.

Once the Gluhwein starts to taste like vinegar, it has gone bad and should not be consumed. Below in this article, we talk about how to store (bottled and homemade) so you can make the most out of this spiced wine.

How To Store Gluhwein Properly

Now we know that when stored correctly, a sealed Gluhwein bottle can last more or less for several years (depending on the quality of the base wine used).

So, how do you store bottled Gluhwein?

Think of storing Gluhwein as you would with other red wines. Choose a dark place away from sunlight and heavy vibrations with a temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The area should ideally have 60 to 70% of humidity.

Where would you find such a space apart from a wine cabinet and cooler? A closet corner or the basement work as great alternatives.

When you are ready to enjoy the wine on a cold night, you can open up a bottle and slowly heat the contents at a low temperature. The exact process can be done on a slow cooker, which will ensure the wonderful spicy aroma permeates your home. 

How To Store an Open Bottle Of Gluhwein

Storing unopened Gluhwein is quite simple, with only a few rules to follow. However, what to do with an opened bottle of German spiced wine? There can be two types of Gluhwein at hand, premixed in a bottle or homemade.

Making Gluhwein at home is actually pretty easy and requires little effort. All you have to do is add spices like cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves with citrus rinds and sugar to red wine.

Heat it all until it is almost boiled but not quite, and let the liquid sit for half an hour before you pour it out. Voila, homemade Gluhwein is ready to serve. Of course, you can customize the recipe, but you get the gist!

Store-bought and homemade Gluhwein are both consumed in abundance during Christmas in Germany (and across Europe with other names). Thus, having an opened bottle of Gluhwein or a pot of the homemade alternative to store is pretty common.

You can store leftover Gluhwein and reheat it to enjoy it for the next three to 5 days.

Here’s how to do it:

Storing Leftover Homemade Gluhwein

Let’s talk about the homemade stuff first.

bad gluhwein

How do you store leftover Gluhwein prepared at home with no bottle to go back into?

The first rule is to allow the spiced wine to cool down till it’s back at room temperature. Once cooled, the most favorable storage utensil to keep the flavor of the Gluhwein intact for as long as possible is an airtight glass container.

Once transferred to the airtight container, put the Gluhwein in the fridge, and it should be good to consume for at least three days, even for five days in some cases.

You can reheat the wine to enjoy it again in the next few days.

Storing An Opened Gluhwein Bottle

If you have leftover wine in an opened Gluhwein bottle, the storage process is quite similar to the one mentioned for the homemade version. Use a funnel to avoid mess when pouring the wine back into the bottle.

Resealing the bottle depends on the type of seal it had in the first place. An airtight bottle stopper made of rubber is a good alternative for a cork seal. However, for a screw top, just twisting the cap back tightly should work.

The idea is to avoid oxygen contact with the liquid surface to prevent oxidation, making the wine taste sour. Place the bottle in the fridge, and you can reheat and consume it within three to five days.

If you are drinking Gluhwein after three days of refrigeration, always do a taste test to see if you can still have it.

Important Tips When Storing Gluhwein

There are only a few pointers to keep in mind when storing open and unopened Gluhwein. Here they are for you at a glance.

  1. Ensure the storage area has the appropriate temperature (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity (60 to 70%). Avoid anywhere with sunlight and persistent vibrations.
  2. Bottled Gluhwein with cork seal should be stored on their side to prevent the cork from drying. Laying the bottle on the side keeps the wine in contact with the cork, ensuring it stays moist.
  3. If sealed tightly, opened, or leftover, Gluhwein can survive three to five days in the fridge.
  4. Homemade Gluhwein cannot be stored for years like sealed bottles. One good idea is to make a spiced syrup beforehand, which you can keep in the fridge for a month. Then whenever you feel like having Gluhwein, you can add the syrup to a red wine base and heat it.

Does Aging Help The Taste Of Gluhwein?

With wine, many people believe that the longer they are aged, the better they taste. However, this does not ring true for Gluhwein. Bottled Gluhwein does not get better with age and is designed to be consumed right away.

While you can store an unopened bottle of Gluhwein for many years, it will not make it taste any better. On the contrary, if not stored correctly, the wine could go bad sooner than later.

Gluhwein is traditionally made from red wine. While many red wines are age-worthy and reach their true taste potential when aged from several years, the same cannot be said for the German mulled wine (or any of its regional counterparts).

Gluhwein does not get better with age because usually, the red wine used as its base is not of high quality, and the sugar, spices, and citrus flavors added to the mix help mask that.

This is why Gluhwein is not a very pricey beverage but still very enjoyable. Despite that, Gluhwein made with average quality base red wine should last a few years because the acidity and the sugar contribute to its longevity.

Bottom Line

When Gluhwein goes bad, its sweet, spicy, and citrusy notes often taste vinegary. However, proper storage can help you enjoy the spiced wine for longer. Unopened Gluhwein can stay in a cool, dark, and moderately humid place for several years.

Whereas opened or homemade Gluhwein can be sealed tight and stored in the fridge to be reheated later (with three to five days).

Read Also: Ten Best Foods to Pair With Gluhwein

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