When buying a glühwein (mulled wine) at a Christmas market in Austria for the first time, you might be surprised at the price.
The good news is that the first cup of glühwein is not really twice the price – you have to pay the deposit (Pfand) for the mug, as well as pay for the drink. But the bad news is that this year the prices have gone up, especially the cost of the Pfand.
Viennese Christmas Markets operators are justifying the high deposit prices for the Christmas mugs with inflation costs, broadcaster ORF reported.
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In some markets, the deposit can cost up to €5 (Stephansplatz market prices). A glühwein, for example, might be advertised as costing €4,90, but once you get to the stand, you will be asked to pay €9,90.
“Inflation and the cost of producing the cups and also the logistics of the whole cleaning service have gone up a lot now, and that’s why the four euros,” explained Hannes Dejaco, who runs several large Christmas markets in Vienna.
How can I get the Pfand back?
The deposit for a glühwein mug is only temporary, so when you return the cup you get your €5 back.
Most Christmas markets have a set area to return the mugs (called Pfand Rückgabe) and get your money back. But if not, simply return the mug to any stand that sells beverages.
Of course, if you want to keep the mug as a souvenir, then it will cost the €5 that you paid for the deposit.
Finally, a top tip for anyone attending the markets for the first time: take cash.
Many Austrian businesses still like to operate in cold, hard cash and there’s no guarantee that the market you visit will accept card payments. So visit the ATM before heading for a glühwein.
Mulled wine – Glühwein
Deposit – Pfand
Deposit return – Pfand Rückgabe
Cash – Bargeld / Bar
Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt / Christkindlmarkt