Swedish Glogg: Flaming Mulled Wine
2 bottles of dry red wine
1 bottle of American port
1 bottle of aquavit or brandy
2 large cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
25 whole cloves
2 cups sugar
1 cup raisins, divided
1 ½ cups blanched almonds, divided
Peel of 2 oranges, divided
Pour the red wine and port into a pot with a fitted cover. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, ½ cup raisins, and 1 cup of the almonds. Warm gently, but do not boil. Boiling will burn off the alcohol.
Pour the sugar in a separate pan and soak it with half of the brandy. Warm the sugar and brandy slurry over a low flame. The sugar will melt and bubble until it becomes a clear golden syrup of caramelized sugar. You can speed up the process by flaming the brandy. Flaming can create a serious flame, so make sure there is nothing near the stove that can catch fire. Stand back! Light the brandy.
Add the caramelized sugar to the spiced wine mix. Cover and let it mull for an hour. Just before serving, strain to remove the spices, and add brandy to taste. You can serve it immediately, or you can let it age for a few months. If you are going to age it, make sure the bottle is filled almost to the brim and tightly sealed.
To serve the glogg, warm it gently over a low flame or in a crockpot, and serve it in small mugs. Garnish with fresh orange peel twisted over the mug to release their essential oils.
The most traditional way to serve glogg is alongside little bowls of blanched almonds and raisins, which guests are free add to their mugs to taste. Gingersnap cookies are also a common accompaniment. For a savory addition, you can also top them with a bit of Roquefort.
Remember, there is no need to invest in expensive wine, port or brandy because the spices are going to preempt any innate complexity of a fine wine, but don't use anything too cheap. Remember, the sum will be no better than the parts. Do not use an aluminum or copper pot because these metals can interact chemically with the wine and brandy and impart a metallic taste. Use stainless steel or porcelain.
You can easily tailor the recipe to your own taste by changing the sweetness, potency, or ingredients. Try adding some brown sugar, for example. You can also substitute whiskey, bourbon or vodka for the aquavit or brandy. My mother sometimes adds some apple cider to heighten the flavor and reduce the alcohol content. Occasionally, she will add a slice of fresh ginger, too. Oftentimes, many Swedes will reduce or eliminate the hard liquor addition altogether so that guests can actually make it out the door.
Pairs Well With
My mother is from northern Sweden where Glogg is practically mandatory around Christmastime. This hot, delicious and potent drink is perfect for Thanksgiving and the fall months, too. It perfumes the house and warms the body. There are as many versions of glogg as there are Scandinavians, but this version, combined with some ideas from Craig Goldwyn, is my favorite.