Quick and dirty recipe for classic Swedish Glögg

My favorite pre-made glögg of the moment is this organic bag-in-box from Ripa. It’s based on Italian red wine and is seen here atop a box of cardamom cookies. It’s easy enough to make your own warm, nose-tickling glögg.

Glögg is a popular and cozy heated mixture of spices, seasonings, red wine and vodka. It’s a Scandinavian staple during the winter holidays.

If you go to a mingle or party at someone’s house in Sweden any time in December, it’s inevitable that glögg will be on hand and people will be giddy.

For example, a few nights ago, my friend Julia and I were hanging out, laughing, listening to music and drinking some fantastic organic glögg. One thing led to another and we posted this photo on Instagram with the caption “Happy engagement day, y’all! We’re celebrating with some glögg.”

And what do you know, after sleeping on her sofa I woke up the next morning to find about a million “Congratulations” and “Oh my God” comments. It seems we would have a really big wedding, except that we’re not getting married (any time soon!) Blame it on the glögg.

We’ve actually posted pictures like this before, but perhaps the smiles and rings made it look authentic. Honestly, I love this photo! I think Julia is getting an honorary Oscar for her performance here.

If you’re not in Sweden where you can just grab a bottle of glögg at every corner – or the stronger version at the state-run liquor store – there’s a recipe to make your own just below our engagement photo. This recipe includes another Swedish holiday staple ingredient: cardamom. If you took away their cardamom and saffron, I think the Swedes might go into withdrawal convulsions. After three years in Stockholm, I’m hooked on both.

The recipe is not set in stone. Most people don’t measure, they just wing it by taste. If I’m making it from scratch instead of pouring it out of a bottle, I usually just put the red wine on the stove and start adding things until it smells and tastes right.  This recipe is a good starting point to get you in the ballpark, then you can fine-tune it to your taste.

Happy holidays!

Quick and dirty recipe for classic Swedish Glögg

25 fl oz red wine (1.5 liters)
2 cinnamon sticks
8 pieces clove
12 cardamom seeds
5 teaspoons granulated sugar
5 fl oz vodka (1.5 dl)

Place a few raisins and/or blanched almonds (3 to 5 each) in your mugs or serving glasses and set aside. I prefer to skip the raisins and just go with the bare almonds.

Heat the wine and spices gently in a saucepan, stir the sugar until dissolved, then add vodka.

Simmer until the glögg is almost boiling, then pour it into your prepared cups or glasses. Grab a blanket and head for the sofa!

Optional: For a more hearty taste, heat the spiced and sweetened wine the day before serving to steep the flavor in, but hold the vodka out until you’re ready to serve. Then reheat the wine before serving while adding the vodka.