Glögg or Mulled wine as it is called in English is a spiced sweet wine that is traditionally served in Scandinavia during Christmas. Learn more about Glögg and how to make your own.
What is glögg?
Glögg is a spiced red wine that is usually served hot in the Scandinavian countries, especially during Christmas. Glögg is the same thing as Mulled wine that is popular in England during christmas. The flavor of glögg can vary much depending on the recipe or producer. There are different varieties of spiced warm wine in most European countries and in some other parts of the world.
The tradition of drinking spiced wine is long and is believed to have been done in ancient Greece and Italy, for both health reasons as well as for flavor. Another reason has been to make bad wine drinkable since quality and transportation could decrease the quality..
Glögg was made in Sweden as early as the 1600’s but it was first in the late 1800’s that glögg started to become popular as wine merchants started to make and market their own glögg.
What does glögg mean?
The word Glögg comes from the word glödg which mean to heat or glow. Earlier glögg could be made by dipping a piece of sugar in alcohol and lighting it on fire, the melting sugar could drip into the wine and thereby sweetening it. This process was called to glödga wine, or glow wine.
What is glögg made of?
Glögg is usually made out of red wine, there are other bases for glögg that you can read more on below. First sugar is added to the wine and then mostly dried spices are added and the glögg is gently heated to extract the flavor of the spices.
The most common spices in glögg are bitter lemon, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins and cloves.
Different types of Glögg on the Swedish market
The market for glögg is big in Sweden and there are an incredible variety of different glögg available. The most common and traditional is the wine glögg. This has the same alcohol level as red wine and is also the type that is most sold. This year there is around 70 different kinds of glögg available at Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol shops. Besides all the glögg being sold at Systembolaget there is also a wide selection of low alcohol or alcohol free glögg in supermarkets. You can split up the varieties in a few different categories.
Traditional wine glögg – Traditional red wine glögg, alcohol level is usually at around 10%.
Starkvinsglögg – Starkvinsglögg or strong wine glögg is exactly what it sounds like. A stronger variety of traditional glögg. Here the alcohol level is at around 15%.
Glögg with extra alcohol – There are also a number of varieties with extra alcohol in. These have an alcohol at around 20% and comes with some extra alcohol added. Often it could be glögg flavored with Whiskey, Rum or Cognac. There are also glögg that has been stored on oak casks of different spirits.
White glögg – White glögg is made from white wine, these come in many varieties so there is white glögg made within each category.
Other types of glögg – Besides these four types there are some other types like apple glögg made from apple juice or rosé wine. There is also some unusual flavorings like chocolate.
How and when to drink glögg?
A majority of glögg is consumed during december and christmas in Sweden. It’s common to invite friends and family for glögg during december and glögg is consumed up until christmas. If you buy glögg at a restaurant you will most likely get it served in a small glass or porcelain cup along with some raisins and almonds that goes into the glögg.
There is also a big chance that there is pepparkakor (that you can read more about here) and lussekatter served. Pepparkakor is the Swedish version of ginger snaps and lussekatter is a sweet saffron bun with raisins. There have also become a small trend the last years where many are drinking white glögg with ice in the summer as an aperitif.
Almost time to make your own glögg but first remember that there is nothing wrong with buying it. Most of the glögg I’ve bought taste great. Personally I stay away from the more adventurous flavors and go with some type of traditional. But from time to time it can be fun to try something weird as well.
So here is the recipe for your very own glögg, this is a fairly classic version but feel free to improvise and add other flavors or remove something if you don’t like it.
1 bottle red wine
80g / 2,8 oz brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 dried pod of cardamom
1 small piece of dried ginger
2 pieces of orange skin
1 star anise
100g / 3,5 oz dark rum (optional)
Now this is how I made it last year, I used a recipe from a book and modified to my own taste. So don’t be afraid to experiment. First pour the wine into a pot and heat, make sure it doesn’t get too hot, we don’t want to loose that alcohol. Then add the sugar and all the spices and keep warm on low heat for about one hour. I usually do this with a lid on. Remove the lid and check the taste. Adjust if necessary, then add the dark rum and set aside.
You can serve the glögg right away or chill it and save it for later. If I am saving it I usually remove all the spices before. If I’m serving it immediately I usually leave the spices in so that I can score some bragging rights with my guests.
What wine to use for glögg
The simple answer is of course red dry wine. I often go for anything medium bodied. But don’t spend too much, you will be sweetening and spicing up that wine so there is no point in buying something expensive. What I have done is saved “bad” bottles of wine for glögg. Meaning that if I bought a few bottles of a wine that I didn’t really care for I saved it on the glögg shelf. Once christmas is coming I’ve already have my base.
Ateriet Swedish Christmas Food Series
Here at Ateriet we love the Swedish Christmas Food and we are currently writing about some of the classic drinks and foods of the Swedish Christmas. All our articles on Swedish Christmas can be found here.