Swedish Glögg: Hot spiced mulled wine.
Glögg (pronounce the “ö” like the “oo” in foot) is a Scandinavian version of a hot toddy. It’s a Christmas tradition in Sweden and the perfect potion for warming up body and spirit on a dark winter day. Just having it on the stove feels festive – a simmering cauldron, filling the house with a heavenly aroma of cinnamon, cardamom and clove. I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with this recipe. For the past couple of days I’ve had to start sipping Swedish glögg sometimes as early as two or three in the afternoon, which – by the way – is about when the sun sets in Sweden in December. I hope you’ll forgive me if my photos look a little fuzzier than usual. Every delicious sip of Swedish glögg is a robust, spicy, warming treat but be sure you’re in for the night because it packs a powerful punch and it’s so smooth and tasty that you need to remind yourself that you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage.
Glögg is a concoction of wine, spirits, sugar and spices that are mulled and served hot. I tried to find the definitive glögg recipe but that’s not possible. There are many variations on the theme. Some Swedish recipes call for Aquavit instead of brandy. Some include vodka. Others recommend dousing sugar cubes in brandy and lighting them on fire to get a caramelized sugar flavoring into the mix. The one constant in every recipe is the red wine, and all seem to agree that it doesn’t have to be an expensive bottle because the sugar, spices and additional spirits add lots of richness and flavor.
Raisins and almonds are a traditional garnish for Glögg. (I love using sweetened sour cherries in place of raisins) Some recipes suggest throwing them into the pot as part of the mulling ingredients. I prefer leaving them as an option to add to individual mugs because I’m not sure everyone is up for almonds and cherries in their drink and in any event I think it’s good for people to know in advance that they’re there. I do highly recommend giving the cherries and almonds a try. After the last swig of glögg, it’s a treat to find those wine-soaked goodies at the bottom of the glass.
After reading through dozens of glogg recipes I decided to go with a mix of wine, port and brandy, infused with the traditional cinnamon-clove-cardamom spices plus some orange peel – potent and delicious!! If I had tons of time (and more alcohol tolerance) I would test out the recipe with vodka and aquavit and even rum. I bet it’s hard to go wrong with this recipe!
Wishing you a very happy holiday with lots of great food and drink, family, friends, good health and joy!
Here’s my recipe for Swedish glögg. Skål! (cheers!)
- You'll need a double thick piece of cheesecloth about 4 inches square and a small piece of kitchen twine
- 1 750 ml bottle of inexpensive red wine (I used a Côtes du Rhône)
- 1 750 ml bottle inexpensive ruby port wine (I used Offley Ruby Porto)
- 2 cups brandy (I used Felipe II)
- The peel of two oranges, divided
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 12 whole cloves
- 8 green cardamom pods, broken and seeds collected (see directions below) or a scant teaspoon of cardamom seeds.
- Optional Garnish
- 1 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1 cup sweetened dried cherries or dark seedless raisins
- Orange peel
- Make the spice pouch To crack open the cardamom pods place the flat side of a wide knife on top of a pod and hit the top flat of the knife with the heel of your hand. Remove the little black seeds. Wrap the cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks and cloves in cheese cloth and tie tightly with twine.
- Mull the Wine and Spirits: In a large pot combine the wine, port, brandy, spice pouch, sugar and the peel of one orange. Heat gently, on low, for at least 20 minutes - the longer it steeps, the better. However never allow it to boil or the alcohol will burn off.
- To Serve: Put a few almonds and a few dried cherries in a mug, if you like. Pour the hot glögg on top. Add a piece of orange peel. Serve hot with spoons for eating the wine-soaked fruit and nuts.