Glögg (Swedish mulled wine) is a traditional Christmas sweet, mulled wine filled with warm spices and citrus. Served throughout the holiday season, this cozy boozy beverage is spiced with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, fresh ginger and orange. It’s the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold winter’s day!
Glögg is a traditional Swedish Christmas drink. We start our glögg pot every year right after Thanksgiving and keep it going through Christmas. When guests stop buy, we’ll heat up the glögg, have some cookies, and enjoy a toast together. When you make a toast, don’t forget to say skål (means cheers, pronouced like “skoal”)!
How To Pronounce Glögg
It’s hard to describe how to pronounce glögg. It’s somewhere between “glug”and “glueg“. It’s best to ask a Swedish speaker to pronounce it for you as I am in no way qualified to tell you the correct way to pronounce glögg. In my family, we call it “glug” and that’s good enough for us.
Is Glögg the Same as Mulled Wine?
Glögg is a type of mulled wine, but it does differ from a standard mulled wine. First of all, glögg uses different spices like cardamom and ginger. It contains raisins and almonds and is served with a spoon to collect those little alcohol infused bites. Glögg can be a lot more boozy than mulled wine with the addition of aquavit (or vodka or brandy).
What Does Glögg Taste Like?
Glögg tastes of warm, spice-infused wine with notes of orange and ginger and a hint of sweetness. To me, it tastes like Christmas.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Red wine: A dry, unsweet red wine works best here. We usually use a cabernet, but a merlot or pinot noir will work. Use a wine that tastes good but doesn’t break the bank. There are so many other flavors going on here that a good wine will get lost. So pick out your favorite budget wine that comes in a big bottle!
- Moscato: Moscato is a sweet-ish, fruity wine with a low alcohol content. If you can’t find Moscato, use a Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or any fruity white wine you prefer.
- Sweet vermouth: A sweet, fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices. The perfect complement to the fruits and spices in glögg.
- Bitters: We have always used Angostura bitters. It’s fruity with notes of cinnamon and clove and adds a depth of flavor to the glögg.
- Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon: The mulling spices! Lightly crush the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods to release their warm, spicey flavors.
- Orange: Add in the orange peels, slices, and juice.
- Ginger: Peeled and lightly crushed to release its flavor.
- Raisins: Because we don’t add any sugar to our glögg we let the raisins provide the sweetness.
- Sugar (optional): Although it’s traditional to add sugar, we don’t. Over time the raisins release their natural sugars which sweetens the glögg. I know it’s not traditional, and I’ve been scolded by a few Swedes, but this is the way my family has been making it my whole life.
- Almonds (optional): If you’re using them, blanch and peel the almonds and add them to your mug when serving.
How to Make Glögg
- Remove the orange peel without the white part and supreme the orange (remove the pith and separate the segments from the membrane). Save the remaining part of the orange because you’ll be extracting the juice from it.
- Peel the ginger and place cardamom pods on a cutting board and bruise with the flat side of a knife.
- In a 6- to 8-quart non-reactive stockpot add the ginger, raisins, orange peel, and orange slices. Squeeze the juice from the body of the orange into the pot and discard the body.
- Toss in the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
- Add the bitters, vermouth, red wine and muscato.
- Bring it just to the point of simmering and then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and warm the wine and spices over high heat. Be careful not to let the glögg boil! Cover and remove from the heat.
- Let it steep for at least 2 hours, although overnight would be ideal, to give the flavors a chance to meld and for the sugars from the raisins to be released.
- Do not boil! – Alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C) so if you boil, or even simmer, the glögg you’ll end up burning off all the alcohol. Then what’s the point?!! So bring it just to the point of simmering and then turn off the heat.
- Keep the glögg going – This may sound strange, but we keep the pot of glögg on the stove and when it starts getting low, we add more ingredients to the pot. Usually, we’ll throw in more of the wines, vermouth and bitters, and we’ll refresh the spices if needed.
- Make it stronger – My great grandmother added Everclear to the glögg and then lit it on fire to burn off some of the alcohol. It must have been quite the spectacle! Others add aquavit, brandy, or vodka. So add a little something extra if you want to take it up a notch!
- Let it sit – The longer it sits, the more time the flavors have time to build. I’m guilty of drinking it right after I’ve made it, and it tastes almost raw or unripe. Time gives the spices and fruit a chance to meld with the wines and gives it a well-rounded taste.
How to Serve
Serve glögg in small mugs with a spoon on the side for collecting the raisins and almonds at the bottom of the mug. It can be warmed on the stove in the pot or in individual mugs in the microwave. Just remember not to let the glögg come to a boil when reheating! Warm it until it just comes to a simmer and then remove from the heat and serve.
What to Serve with Glögg
- Glögg and my pepparkakor (Swedish gingerbread cookies) are a perfect holiday pair!
- Have a mug with a slice of my brown sugar spiced persimmon bread.
- Cookies, especially my maple glazed cardamom sugar cookies!
- Chocolate is delicious with glögg. Make my coconut covered chocolate balls (chokladbollar).
- Hearty cheeses, pickled herring, pickled onions, sausages and crispbread.
- On the Christmal table (julbord) with Jansson’s Temptation (Janssons Frestelse).
- Swedish meatballs of course!
How to Make Non-Alcoholic Glögg
To make a non-alcoholic version of glögg, add the spices to either an alcohol-free red wine like cabernet, pinot noir or merlot. If you’d like to use a juice for your non-alcoholic mulled wine, try pomegranate, cranberry or grape juice or some combination of them.
Glögg (Swedish Mulled Wine)
- 1 1.5 L bottle dry red wine (cabernet, pinot noir, merlot)
- 1 1.5 L bottle moscato or muscatel
- 2 cups sweet vermouth
- 2 Tbsp Angostura bitters
- 2 cups raisins
- 1 orange peel and slices
- 12 whole cardamom pods, bruised using the flat side of a knife
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups aquavit (optional)
- 1 ½ cups sugar (optional)
- 2 cups whole almonds, blanched and peeled (optional)
Make the glögg:
- In a 6- to 8-quart non-reactive pot, mix together the red wine, Muscato, sweet vermouth, bitters, raisins, orange peel, orange slices, cardamom pods, cloves, ginger and cinnamon stick.
- Bring the glögg just to the point of simmering and immediately turn off the heat.
- Cover and let stand at least 12 hours so the flavors develop.
- Shortly before serving, stir in aquavit and sugar (if using).
Serve the glögg:
- On the stove, warm glögg just to the point of simmering, or fill individual mugs and warm in the microwave.
- Remove pot from heat. Using a ladle, serve the glögg in individual mugs. Add almonds if using.
- Serve with a small spoon in each mug to scoop up the almonds and raisins.