Danish Wintertime Drink

Hot spiced wine, enjoyed during the winter months—many European cultures have such a treat, each with a slightly different recipe and name. The Germans call it Glühwein, the English love their Mulled wine and, in Italy, vin brulvin brulé is a favorite drink, to name only three. In days of yore, spicing and sweetening was one way of extending the life of a bottle of wine that was going a touch vinegary. Heating it up turned it into a delightful cold weather drink.

The name, gløgg (Danish) or glögg (Swedish) derives from glødet vin, 'glowed wine,' which brings a wonderful image of a crackling fire, its light filtering through a goblet of deep red drink, to mind. The name, formerly spelled glødg, is an obvious cognate with the German Glühwein. The Danish pronunciation, is approximately gluh'.

When our Scandinavian friend Dimview told me about the Danish version her boyfriend makes, I knew I had to try it at home. The results are easy, delicious, and sure to be a hit at any party—you know, unless you have people who can’t drink...Or have sugar. Okay, this stuff will be a delight at many parties which do not have too many people who can’t have alcohol or sugar...Or raisins...look, just read on and judge for yourself.

Note: There are countless variations of the recipe for gløgg/glögg, mostly changing the proportions of spices or omitting/adding other ingredients. CCunning has a very good one on the glögg node. Over time, you may decide to vary the recipe and make it your own, which I strongly encourage!.


1 750 ml bottle of red wine (don't go fancy, a cheap bottle will do fine)
1 dl (about 3 oz) of vodka
5 whole sticks of cinnamon
20 whole cloves
one small piece of ginger (I use candied ginger, but fresh is good too)
1 tsp of cardamom
one small piece of lemon or orange peel (optional)
50 g (2 oz or so, 4 tbsp) of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 g (3 oz or so, 6 tbsp or just a skosh over) of raisins
50 g (2 oz or so, 4 tbsp) of almonds (slivered)

Break the cinnamon into pieces and place into a container along with the vodka, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and the lemon or orange peel (if you are using those). Seal the container (I use a mason jar, but Tupperware or that sort of thing works just as well. Now go away for approximately 24 hours.

Pour off the vodka, straining out the gritty bits (a coffee filter works well for this) into a saucepan. Add the wine, sugar, vanilla extract, raisins and almonds. Now apply very gentle heat. It's important not to overheat it, as that will burn off the alcohol. The original instructions said 46° Celsius, which is around 115° F—a fingertip test works for this, dip a (clean please!) finger into the brew. 115 is about the temperature of a very hot bath, so you should be able to hold your finger in there without pain, but it should definitely feel hot.

Once it reaches this temperature, pour into mugs and serve! The wine-soaked almond-raisin precipitate can be eaten with a spoon or drunk with the mixture (that's a bit of a sloppy process, however). Or you may get creative and put it on apple pie with whipped cream, for example. A roaring fire, friends, and wintertime merriment are optional but strongly recommended.

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