Nothing says Christmas like a mug of warm spiced wine. At least, that’s the case in many European countries. You might know it as gluhwein or mulled wine, but the process comes down to the same thing: heating wine and spirits to just below boiling point to infuse the taste of spices into the drink. In Sweden, this holiday drink is called glögg. Every country (and every grandmother) has her own specific spices and spirits. In Sweden the spices are kept simple: cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, and the added spirit is usually aquavit. Which wine and which spirits you choose is up to you. A good guideline is not to use too expensive stuff. As you will be heating, mixing, and spicing it, the subtleties of an expensive port will be lost. The smells that preparing this traditional European festive drink will produce make decorating just that much nicer. So put on your favourite holiday playlist and let the festivities begin!
Ingredients (makes 2 litres)
• 1 bottle tawny port
• 1 bottle dry red wine
• 1 cup bourbon (or cognac,
or vodka, or aquavit)
• 3 slices of orange peel
• 8 pods cardamom, lightly crushed
• 8 whole cloves
• 2 large cinnamon sticks
• sultana raisins
• blanched, peeled almonds
1. Place all the ingredients (minus sultanas and raisins) in a non-reactive, clean pot (I like using my slow-cooker). Make sure there are absolutely no impurities in the pot, as they can react with the wine and turn the whole thing into a vinegary mess.
2. If you have some cheesecloth or empty tea bags place the cardamom and cloves in there before adding to the pot. Don’t use ground spices, as they will be difficult to filter out.
3. Heat the mixture to just under the boiling point and keep it there for 1 to 2 hours, covered with a lid. Add sugar to taste. I usually end up adding a quarter to half a cup of sugar to the mixture. Stir well to let the sugar dissolve. Turn off the heat and let the wine cool for another hour.
4. Strain mixture and discard the spices and the orange peel. Pour into a holding container, like the empty wine bottles. Aging the glögg in an airtight container will improve the flavour.
5. Before serving, heat the desired quantity of wine, with raisins and almonds to taste in a non-reactive pot. Reserve the soaked raisins and almonds and place them on the bottom of your serving mugs, before pouring and serving the glögg.