Win(e)ter-Wonderland - Christmas wine traditions


It’s Christmas time! And that means, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! When the days get shorter and the weather colder, what’s better than getting cozy, light some candles and sip some nice wine to warm up? Nothing? We think so, too!

The festive season is full of traditions and wine has always played a key role in many countries’ Christmas preparation rituals.

Here is a list of different wine related customs for the holy holiday! Grab your own favorite winter wine, sit back and get inspired to try something new; or even to travel to experience some of these delicious beverages in this year’s merry season!

Tell me what you’re drinking – I tell you where you’re from!

Here in Portugal, wines are a must all year round and while we do have many gastronomical Christmas traditions, there is no real special Christmas wine. On Christmas eve most households opt for a traditional codfish or octopus meal and turkey on Christmas day, always combined with their favorite wines, either white or red. The perfect dessert is in Portugal in this season a broad variety, including Bolo Rei, Broa Castelar (made of sweet potato almond and orange scraps), Lampreia de Ovos (a sugar and egg based cake, shaped like a fish) and Rabanadas (a fried slice of bread covered in sugar and cinnamon). They go very well with Portwine, Madeira wine or Moscatel which cannot be missing on a Portuguese table and although not hot, they will definitely help warming up! A nice, dense LBV Port, with dark chocolate and black fruit aromas combines perfectly with cheese plates or chocolate desserts.

Also, a medium sweet Barbeito Madeira wine is a delicious fit with our traditional sweets, like the bolo rei (king’s cake, made with white dough, raisins, various nuts, and crystallized fruit) or Christmas pudding. 

Mulled Wine – as it’s known in the UK, is one of the most popular winter wine traditions. Its recipe is easy and delicious: heat up and sweeten your red wine with white sugar and mix it with orange peels, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Apart from that, also the (Portuguese) Port and Sherry are a must in British households in December, since they are fortified, syrupy and sweet, with complex flavors such as berries, vanilla, caramel, cinnamon or bitter chocolate, which are associated with this time of the year, and lead to a warming sensation to the drinker.

Glühwein – is the German and Austrian version of a steamy sweetened mix of red wine, orange juice, various spices and rum, that you spot most often in the marvelous and atmospheric Christmas markets. This can evolve into a flaming wine spectacle: place the hot wine in a large bowl and top it with a rum-drenched sugar cone. Set it alight, and be amazed by the resulting flickering blue flame – a highlight at every Christmas party and come together! Afterwards distribute the hot beverage spoon wise among your guests and enjoy!

Forralt Bor – is Hungary’s sweet white wine spiced up with peppercorns, ginger, cloves and cinnamon sticks and sweetened with honey and orages, to keep you warm and happy.

Glogg – is what gets the Swedish through the winter! The glogg is a combination of boiled water with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and oranges and dissolved sugar which is then enriched with raisins and almonds. In the end, Muscatel, port and brandy are added, resulting in this wonderful and warming blend.

However, Christmas isn’t cold everywhere, but actually happens to be in the middle of summer for half of the world. This is why in Australia fruity white wines are served nice and cold. In New Zealand, they have even come up with wine popsicles to enjoy and cool down in their hot December sun. Another treat from down under are the classic Australian Christmas trifles, made with port wine, sherry or brandy.

Whatever your tradition is and wherever you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful advent season and relax with a delightful glass of your favorite wine (and, best case scenario, a beautiful view, too!) Merry Christmas!