Scandinavians are good at winter. Whether on skates, skis or snowshoes, they know how to get outside and enjoy what the season has to offer. They are also experts at coming in from the cold and getting cozy with candlelight, a roaring fire and perhaps most importantly, a steaming cup of mulled wine or glögg.
Spicy, sweet and soul-warming, glögg is served throughout the holiday season in Scandinavia. Ready to make your own? Let me show you how.
Why This Recipe Works
This will be your go-to recipe for glögg because it:
- contains just the right amount of sugar and spice;
- is not overly boozy (some recipes contain a LOT of alcohol), but is pleasantly spirited; AND
- is incredibly easy to make!
VERY straightforward ingredients here, with just a few notes worth sharing:
- Use a full-bodied, inexpensive red wine. No need to break out the good stuff here, but definitely find something you would enjoy drinking on it's own. I like using Dark Horse Big Red Blend for my glögg. Described as a "shameless people pleaser", this wine is toasty with big berry flavor. Perfect for mulled wine and a good price point, too.
- Include the right combination of spices. There are many different recipes for glögg, all of which use a different mix of spices. I like to keep it classic with fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves. And no need to overdo it, a modest amount of spices goes a long way.
- Add orange peel and juice. Adding the zest and juice of an orange really brightens your spiced wine without giving it an overly orange-y flavor.
- Use brown sugar as the sweetener. This helps bring out a toasty sweetness in the glögg.
- Aquavit is the Scandinavian choice, but vodka, rum or brandy will work just fine as well.
How to Make this Recipe
Glögg is easy to make at home with just a few simple steps:
- Peel the orange, cut it in half and juice it right into a medium saucepan.
- Add the brown sugar, sliced fresh ginger and spices.
- Pour in the wine.
- Let the mixture JUST come to a simmer. DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BOIL! Boiling or even simmering the glögg will cause the alcohol to evaporate. We don't want that! Bring the mixture up to the point of simmering and then turn off the heat.
- Turn off the heat, cover and let the mixture sit for a couple of hours at room temperature.
- Strain the mixture (reserve the cinnamon sticks if you would like to use them for a garnish) and add the aquavit (or vodka, rum or brandy).
- Bring it back to JUST a simmer and serve!
That's all there is to it!
Expert Tips for Making and Serving Delicious Glögg at Home
- Perhaps the most important tip of all....don't let the glögg come to a boil! Boiling or even simmering the glögg will cause the alcohol to evaporate. We don't want that! Bring the glögg up to the point of simmering and then turn off the heat.
- Let the wine and the spices steep for several hours. The flavor of your glögg will improve if you give the wine a chance to really take on the flavor of the warm spices.
- Add aquavit (or vodka, brandy or rum) just prior to reheating and serving. Again, do not let the glögg come to a boil. We want to preserve the potency of our mulled wine.
- Garnish each cup of glögg with an orange or clementine slice and maybe even a cinnamon stick (reserved from the spice mixture). This is a lovely presentation for this warm, festive beverage.
- If you want to stick with tradition, serve with golden raisins and blanched slivered almonds. These "garnishes" will inevitably sink to the bottom of each cup of glögg. Invite your guests to use a spoon to eat up the delicious almonds and raisins at the bottom of the glass once they have finished their beverage.
Glögg is pronounced "glue-g".
According to The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson, the word glögg comes from the Swedish word glödga, meaning u0022to heatu0022.
Yes. It's best to make the recipe to point that you strain the mixture but have not yet added any additional alcohol. Store the spiced wine covered in the fridge for up to a week. When you are ready to serve, simply add the aquavit and reheat (but do NOT boil).
Glögg will keep overed in the fridge for up to a week.
Vodka, rum or brandy can all be used in place of the aquavit.
What Should I Serve with Glögg?
Glögg makes a fine pairing for so many tasty treats. Some of my favorites include:
How to Host a Glögg Party
Hosting a glögg party is very common during the month of December in Scandinavia. So common, in fact, that you may need to make appearances at several parties on any given Saturday or Sunday. Perhaps this is why glögg is best served in small cups.
Ready to host your own glögg party? I've got an easy and delicious menu to get you started right here. Just add some festive music, candles, a few evergreen boughs and a handful of good friends.
- 1 orange
- 1 bottle dry red wine nothing expensive but full-bodied
- ⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 inch piece of ginger sliced into thin rounds
- 10 whole cloves
- 10 cardamom pods crushed (include both pods and seeds)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- ½ cup aquavit such as the Linie brand (rum, brandy or vodka will also work)
- Golden raisins, blanched almonds and thin orange or clementine slices for serving (optional)
- Remove the peel from the orange using a vegetable peeler and transfer peel strips to a medium saucepan. Cut orange in half and squeeze juice into the saucepan with the peel.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the saucepan and heat until mixture just comes to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat. Let steep for two to four hours at room temperature. Strain into a clean container. Mixture can be prepared up until this point up to a week ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- When you are ready to serve, return mixture to a saucepan. Add aquavit and a handful of golden raisins. Heat but do not boil (boiling will remove the alcohol). Serve immediately garnished with raisins, blanched almonds and orange or clementine slices if desired.