What Is Glögg And How Do You Drink It Traditionally?

Every country may have its own unique cultures and languages, but when winter arrives, we're all united around the world by the desire to imbibe a warm, boozy beverage. For the people of Sweden, the go-to drink is glögg. You might not call it by this name — but head south, and you could recognize it as "vin brulé" in Italy, "glühwein" in Germany, or "vin chaud" in France. Elsewhere, we know this wintery specialty as "mulled wine."

As with other Europeans, Swedes traditionally drink glögg — which is pronounced similarly to 'glug,' like the act of consuming it, rather than as a rhyme for Dutch shoes — at Christmastime. At its essence, glögg is wine that has been flavored with spices and heated, similar to drinks found at winter holiday markets across the globe, but there are a few key qualities that make this drink one-of-a-kind. The most noticeable difference is that glögg is a kind of cocktail that comes with its own snacks. Traditional recipes call for the inclusion of dried fruits and nuts, which soak in the alcohol and can be eaten with a spoon in between sips.

Tips for making your own glögg

Rumor has it that you can sometimes find glögg at Ikea, but if you want to make it from scratch, you can do so by tweaking a classic mulled wine recipe. The first decision to make is which kind of wine will be the primary ingredient. You can seek out expert advice on the best bottles to use for mulled wine, or you can take inspiration from what you already have stocked in your bar. Luckily, this recipe is endlessly adaptable and can accommodate either red or white wine as the base, or — for something stronger and even more traditional — port wine. A truly Swedish preparation of glögg generally includes a mixture of different alcohols, such as whiskey and rum.

Besides the abundant booze, you'll want to make sure to add plenty of spices. For a hint of cozy, festive flair, toss in a handful of whole cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and strips of orange peel to flavor the glögg as it warms up. Of course, don't forget the slivered almonds and the raisins! Eating wine-plumped dried fruit is half the fun.

Hosting a glöggmingel

The Swedes don't just have a special name for their mulled wine — they also have a word to describe the act of gathering to enjoy a glass of glögg with loved ones: a glöggmingel. When hosting your own glöggmingel, make sure you have the appropriate equipment beforehand. You'll need a big pot or slow cooker, so you can keep the glögg warm over time, as well as plenty of heat-proof mugs for serving.

Since glögg is typically filled with raisins and almonds, it's seen as a small meal in itself and not usually served with other snacks. There is a separate Swedish tradition known as the 'julbord' — a Christmasy take on the more well-known 'smörgåsbord' — which is essentially a buffet of the country's classic dishes that includes, of course, Swedish meatballs. If you want to partake in both practices, you can enjoy a round of glögg, then make your way to the julbord for food afterward.