It’s nearly December which means one thing: It’s time for Gløgg. Gløgg is the Scandinavian version of spiced mulled wine. From a corner of the world where winters are defined by brief grey days and long dark nights, fire and warmth are woven into the Nordic lifestyle and winter celebrations. Candles provide cosiness and light, adorning windows, tables and the holiday tree. Pelts and fur soften cold surfaces and soothe the skin. Socializing and rituals enliven the home and brighten the spirit. And hearty meals with fortified drinks warm the belly and feed the soul.
From now until Christmas, gløgg is prolific in Scandinavia. Hot, spiced and boosted with wine and spirits, this liquid pick-me-up is an elixir worthy of the vikings. Served in cafes and restaurants, from city street carts and at social gatherings, it’s the season’s antidote to the cold and dark. Most home cooks will make their own brew, whether enabled by a mix or from scratch. This recipe is my version of gløgg from scratch, and I encourage you to try this method. It avoids the cloying sweetness often found with mixes and is easy to prepare. As it simmers, the aromas of wine and spice will fill your home hinting at Christmas to come. Never mind any inclement weather outdoors. Inside it will be warm and cosy – a perfect complement to the winter day.
Makes 8-10 servings
For the garnish:
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or rum
1/2 cup whole almonds
For the gløgg:
1 – 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
zest of 2 oranges, cut in strips
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles inexpensive dry red wine
Fresh orange slices
Prepare the garnish:
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins can be prepared up to one week in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.)
Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.
Prepare the gløgg:
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes.
Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not boil.
Add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds to a glass or mug. Strain gløgg into glass. Garnish with fresh orange slices.