Imagine it’s the middle of winter: the days are fleeting as cold, dark night chases them from dawn til dusk; the air is so crisp it turns your cheeks into rosy apples and your breath into dragon’s smoke; and your toes huddle together for warmth inside your shoes as a deep, damp chill rises up from the ground.
Imagine now a window, glowing with amber lights and the promise of somewhere warm to defrost your fingers. Perhaps there’s the promise of a hot meal, or cuddles with a shaggy puppy or cat, or maybe you just know you’re going to sit with friends or family, listening to music, and chat about everything and nothing in good humour while enjoying a snack.
In Danish, this last image is a depiction of what it means to be ‘hyggligt’, or in a state of ‘hygge’. Sweden has a similar word – ‘mysigt’ – which touches on the same idea: that great happiness and quiet satisfaction with life can come from the conviviality of spending time with people you like, in a cosy environment, talking about things that make you smile.
Nothing can spoil a mysigt situation quite like coldness. Whether it’s coldness of attitude (grumpiness, meanness, or gossipy talk) or coldness of the room or the body, the effect is the same: it’s impossible to really settle into cosiness unless you feel physically and emotionally comfortable.
In winter, one of the ways Swedes help warm guests up from the inside-out is to serve them a small cup of glögg (pronounced something like ‘glurhg’) when they arrive.
Warmed on the stove and infused with exotic warming spices like cinnamon, cardamon and cloves, this delicious mulled wine has become synonymous with Jultid/Christmastime, as it’s the drink served to thaw out visitors when they come in from the snow with festive gifts and good wishes.
Traditionally, glögg is made with an extra slug of vodka or brandy, which certainly warmup your belly, but not only can you leave this out, you can even make this a non-alcoholic drink by using either non-alcoholic wine or grape juice. And if wine’s not your drink of choice, you can forgo the grapes in favour of apples by making with with either hard or soft cider.
Another traditional part of serving glögg is to add a few blanched almonds and raisins to each cup and serve it with a small spoon. By the time you’ve finished the mulled wine, the almonds have turned rosy pink, and the raisins are plump with warm, spiced flavours. Eaten with the spoon, these drunken morsels complete the apéritif: they take the edge off an hunger you might be feeling, and stimulate the appetite for the food to come. Obviously check that you don’t have any nut-allergies to account for before serving, and feel free to leave this bit out if you prefer.
(To make 1x 700ml bottle of wine)
- A bottle of red wine (cheap is fine!)
- 1 slice orange
- 1 slice apple
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1 star anise
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 whole green cardamom pods
- 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
- (optional) 30-60ml vodka or brandy
- To serve: blanched almonds & raisins (around 4-5 of each per cup)
1. Add wine, fruit, spices & sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes and then taste. Adjust sugar to taste, and if using, add vodka/brandy.
3. Serve in small cups or glasses with a scoop of blanched almonds & raisins in each one.
- If you want to prepare a glögg mix ahead of time, you can use dehydrated apple & orange.
- Speaking of dehydrated fruit, why not make up some Glögg gift packs? Simply sub out brown sugar for rock sugar (it lasts longer when packaged), then wrap all the dried ingredients in a square of clean muslin/cheesecloth or a cellophane bag and attach to a bottle of plonk with some festive ribbon.
- If increasing the batch, you’ll find the spices become overpowering if you just double everything. We go with this recipe for 1-2 bottles, so only double fruit & spices if we make 3-4 bottles worth.
- If you want to keep glögg warm for a while, strain spices out after around 20 minutes of simmering, otherwise the wine will begin tasting bitter.
- You can make a large batch and keep it warm in a slow-cooker set on the ‘warm’ feature: just remember to remove the spices after 20 minutes so the wine doesn’t turn bitter.
Check out some of our other drinks recipes here: