Glögg: Swedish Mulled Wine
I remember my father brewing glögg in a large reddish, orange enamel pot, which as a child seemed big enough for me to crawl into.
Not much of a kitchen man, my father does a few things well, and glögg is one of them, and in fact to this day, I have yet to make it myself at my parents’ house, since the glögg pot is my father’s domain.
His love of glögg came about when he studied abroad in Sweden in the late 1960s. I have a romantic vision of my parents sitting around with their university friends, talking about politics and drinking glögg at a festive December gathering somewhere in a small dorm kitchen. While this may or may not have happened, my father took the tradition of glögg with him when he and my mother moved to the US, and thus, for me, glögg has always been a December essential.
Which means you must keep the appropriate spices and libations on hand at all times.
In Sweden, glögg is similar to eggnog, in the sense that come December, you can buy the pre-made version in stores. But homemade is always best, and when you get these spices brewing, your home takes on an immediate seasonal smell.
There are many many ways to make glögg, but the concept is the same: spiced wine that’s served warm. This recipe is a slight variation on my father’s recipe, as he doesn’t use orange peel, but his trick of pouring in port or madeira means you don’t use sugar, which is often called for in classic glögg recipes. He also uses vodka to bring out the flavor of the spices, but I like whiskey because of its stronger flavor that pairs well with the spices.
The thing about glögg is that it gets better the longer it sits, so usually you want to make it the day before you need it you’ll be glad you did. However, I rarely remember in time to do this, so this recipe is the “quick” version. Because you pull out the taste of spices with the alcohol and water, this recipe works really well when you need to make glögg in a hurry. And it’s December, you’d be surprised how often that is.
A recipe note: Normally people strain out the spices before pouring in the wine. I happen to like a spicier glögg so I leave them in. I’ll let you choose which ever method you prefer.
Peel of one orange
About 1 tablespoon of sliced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons green cardamom pods
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup whiskey (you can also use vodka)
2 cups water
1 cup port
1 bottle of red wine – you want a bolder red wine like a Syrah, Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon
Place the orange peel and spices in a large saucepan and pour over the whiskey. Slowly warm up the ingredients until you can really smell the spices, this takes about 5 minutes. Add in the water and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Add in the port and the wine to the spice blend and let the glögg brew on the lowest heat. Serve when warm (I often end up letting it sit on warm heat for quite some time which lets it infuse even longer, you just want to make sure it doesn’t boil). If you want to do it the classic Swedish way, pop a few blanched almonds and raisins in each glass.
For a stronger kick in the glögg, you can add in a little extra port or even whiskey right before you serve it.
Want more Swedish recipes? Get a copy of my book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break
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