Swedish Glogg at Christmas Time
Glogg is something that my whole family looks forward to during the holiday season. It is an acquired taste, though if you get past the first glass or so, you won’t mind it much at all until the next morning. It is a sweet, high alcohol content, mulled wine with spices and fruit. Most recipes are made with a combination of port, red wine, and whiskey or brandy along with cinnamon, cloves, orange peels, and prunes. While I am half Czech and only a quarter Swedish, our Swedish side of the family embraced our culture and past traditions, especially during Christmas time. I grew up knowing lullabies in Swedish and my grandmother taught me how to bake Swedish breads and how to determine the difference between pickled herring that was fresh and the kind that used cod. The colors of our Christmas decorations were usually yellow and blue with a little green and red thrown in.
The best part of Christmas for us kids growing up, was that we could have alcohol. It was a big deal in our family. Throughout the year we might get a chance to taste grandpa’s good beer or try a sip of mom’s wine, but at Christmas, each person, young or old, was given a mug of glogg. Grandma always served the glogg in her porcelain Christmas punch mugs that looked more like my dolls tea set than mugs made for adults. The mugs had a scene of Swedish children bundled with scarves, hats, and mittens skating on a pond. These mugs and the large bunch bowl came out at Christmas and it only meant one thing when we saw that set out on the big dining room table: Glogg.
Glogg is really just a spiced wine that is served hot. For the Swedes living in the cold harsh winters back home, a cup full of glogg would have kept them warm. There are many different versions of glogg as I am sure each Swedish family has their own traditional recipe passed down from each generation. Our recipe came over from Sweden with my great grandfather and we haven’t changed a thing.
1 gallon of port
1 bottle of red wine
1/2 pound of prunes
1/2 pound of blanched whole almonds
1/4 pound of raisins
1/4 pound of currants
1 fresh orange peel
4 whole cloves
4 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup of sugar cubes
1 bottle of whiskey
Step 1: Put all of the fruit, cloves, cinnamon, and blanched almonds in a large pot and cover with the port. Let the fruit soak in the port overnight. This gives the fruit fantastic flavor as well as plump them up into juicy port filled morsels!
Step 2: The next morning – or soon before you plan to drink the glogg, put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, cook for five minutes. Add the bottle of red wine and quickly bring back to a boil.
Step 3: This is the fun part! While the glogg is at a boil, put your sugar cubes in a metal strainer – one that you don’t mind scorching. Hold the strainer with the sugar cubes just over the liquid in the pot. Pour your bottle of whiskey over the sugar so it runs through the strainer and into the pot. Using a long match or a long lighter, light the liquid in the pot on fire and then immediately hold the sugar over the flames for about one minute. Then dump the sugar into the pot and cover the pot with a lid to put out the flames. Turn the burner off and let the glogg sit for a minute or two and then stir to distribute the sugar.
Serve hot and make sure to get some of the fruit and almonds into each mug!