The Difference between German Gluhwein and Feuerzangenbowle
If you are looking to kick things up a notch, you may find this drink very interesting. Feuerzangenbowle is literally translated as “fire tongs punch”. The recipe is similar to the recipe of Gluhwein/mulled wine. Both the Feuerzangenbowle as well as the mulled wine red wine is used. In the Feuerzangenbowle as well as the Gluhwein spices and often oranges are added. The difference between Feuerzangenbowle and mulled wine, however, is that over the Feuerzangenbowle a rum-soaked Sugarloaf is burned. This requires special pliers, on which the Sugarloaf is burned. This gives the Feuerzangenbowle a different taste. It is not only much sweeter by the sugar, it contains by the rum – not completely burned – also a much higher alcohol content such as mulled wine. Visually, however, there are usually no differences at first sight. The smell of a mulled wine is usually spicier and less sweet.
The “Feuerzangenbowle” became famous in Germany in 1944
The movie Die Feuerzangenbowle (The Fire-Tongs Bowl) is a 1944 German film. It is based on the book of the same name. The movie tells the story of a famous writer going undercover as a student at a small-town secondary school after his friends tell him that he missed out on the best part of growing up by being educated at home. The story in the book takes place during the time of the Wilhelmine Empire in Germany. The movie was produced and released in Germany during the last years of World War II. The movie stars Heinz Rühmann in the role of the student Hans Pfeiffer, which is remarkable as Rühmann was already 42 years old at that time.
Feuerzangenbowle is a social event
In the opening scene a group of gentleman consume the Feuerzangenbowle. While exchanging nostalgic stories about their school days, the successful but somewhat stuffy young writer Dr. Johannes Pfeiffer realizes he missed out on something because he was taught at home and never attended school. He decides to make up for it by masquerading as a student at a small-town high school. You can see the movie with English subtitles here.
It’s a brew that’s great fun to make as it involves suspending a giant chunk of sugar above the wine, dousing it in rum and setting it on fire. Admittedly, finding a big chunk of sugar, particularly a sugar cone isn’t an easy thing in South Africa. If you cannot get that, try to get sugar cubes. There is also a big difference in that the burning of the Sugarloaf on the tongs represents a social event. You gather in front of the pot and watch the burning of the sugar.