It’s December and dark outside, though it’s mid-afternoon. And I need a mug of glögg to warm my soul.
Across Scandinavia, outdoor markets traditionally draw revelers during the holidays for food, social interaction, and glögg, a hot mulled wine that defines the season. While each country has their own version, tweaked by each person who makes it, even its own spelling (gløgg in Norwegian and Danish, glögg in Swedish and Icelandic), the drink embodies what the Danes call hygee and the Swedish call mys, that sense of warm, fuzzy coziness we all crave—especially during the holidays.
According to some sources, mulled wine dates back to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans, when it was used medicinally. Many Swedes believe it appeared in Scandinavia in the 1600’s, swilled by postmen and messengers who traveled by skies or horseback. Today, it’s mostly sipped at Christmastime. Anna Clarholm, Co-Owner and Quality Manager at Borgeby Kryddgård, a specialty grocery store in Bjäred in southern Sweden, sells Glogg spice packets from a recipe that dates back many years. “We mix spices from all corners of the world: cloves, green cardamom, orange peel, cinnamon and ginger make for a really flavorful and tasty mulled wine,” she says.
“Glögg to me, and most Swedes for that matter, is all about getting together. Normally, I would have attended at least two or three glögg parties by now—but it’s simply not possible at the moment,” says Martina Slater a communications manager and inveterate foodie and instagrammer, who lives in a small village on the western coast of Skåne. Nevertheless, she’s managed to make a few glöggs at home. “We’ve tried a range of flavors: from the traditional red-wine glögg to an apple-based one with vanilla and oranges. Glögg is definitely one of my favorite Christmas tipples!”
“Glögg is a time honoured tradition and an important part of Christmas for my family and friends here in Denmark,” says Frederik Lundberg, a Copenhagen-based epicurean and journalist. While some prefer to use a generic red wine, Lundberg suggests something full-bodied for the base—such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cotes du Rhone. He also likes to add Barbados rum and quintessentially Danish aquavit to his mix. His pro tip? “Soak the raisins and almonds in the rum before making the Glögg. “Everyone makes (or buys) their own version to their taste,” he says. “ I like it strong, dark, hot and full-bodied. Like my wife!”
1 bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Cotes du Rhone)
100 ml aquavit (if not, vodka will do)
100 ml dark rum (sweet and spicy, like Barbados rum)
Juice + zest from 1 orange
A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
2 pieces of star anise
1 roll of cinnamon bark
1 heaped spoon of muscovado sugar (or similar)
100 g raisins
100 g peeled and coarsely chopped almonds
Put all the ingredients (except raisins and almonds) in a pot.
Bring to a simmer but not a boil.
Put a lid on and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn the heat off, and it is ready to serve. But if you have time, let the contents rest for an hour or two.
Serve hot, but not boiling. Put the raisins and almonds in the glögg, when you reheat or serve it. Serve in see through mugs to enjoy the colors.