It takes only one sip of this drink to understand why Scandinavians love it so much. I remember the first year I brought my husband to Denmark. Gloeg was the first word he learned—and no wonder. Gloeg was served on every street corner. We were walking through the Christmas-lit streets of Copenhagen, and I would always know when he’d spotted another sign with that delightful word… “Gloeg”. His steps would pick up and he’d get this chipper look on his face. Needless to say, after a day of sightseeing, he was a bit tipsy.
Unfortunately, gloeg is not served on every street corner in the US during the cold months. We’ll have to make do with pumpkin spiced lattes or hot apple cider. Though that is delicious too, we do miss gloeg!
Luckily it’s fairly easy to make your own at home. Here’s all you need.
- 2 bottles of cheap wine (doesn’t need to be prize-winners. Choose something on the heavier side. Bordeaux or cabernet sauvignon usually works well)
- 1 small slice of organic lemon peel
- 2 slices of fresh ginger10 cardamom seeds
- 15 cloves
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- Sugar to taste
- Orange Juice to taste (optional)
- Any liquor to taste (rum, vodka, port, sherry etc.)
- Raisins and sliced almonds
Pour the wine in a pot, and add all the spices, the fresh ginger, and the lemon peel. Turn the stove on low, and let the mixture heat up. If you don’t want all the spices just floating around, empty out a teabag and tie it back up with the spices inside. That way you prevent people from taking in a mouthful of cloves.
It’s important you don’t let the gloeg boil or simmer. It needs to just mull. The longer you let it mull, the better it will be. For serving gloeg at mid-day, we begin preparing it around 9-10am; to serve it in the evening we start around 4-5pm. (But if need be you can make a perfectly fine-tasting gloeg in an hour or less).
Once you get close to serving the gloeg, add some sugar (and orange juice) for sweetness. You may be surprised how much sugar you need. We like our gloeg a bit tart, but it still takes about 1 cup of sugar and 1/2-1 cup of orange juice to find that perfect balance between tart, sweet, and sour.
Also, pour in the sliced almonds and the raisins. Make sure they get some time to soak up the taste of the wine and the spices. The almonds and raisins are unique to Scandinavian gloeg versus other sort of hot wine throughout Europe.
Right before serving, add additional liquors to taste. We prefer a spiced rum or port, but anything goes, really.
Looking for a shortcut?
If you find all this a bit too much work, and want to make things easier on yourself in the haste of the busy christmas month, don’t fret. You can purchase a perfectly fine gloeg mixture at IKEA. With this you simply need to add the mixture to the wine (1:1), let it heat up, and it’s ready to serve.
Alternatively, you could get away with adding ‘mulling spices’ to the wine instead. In the Northeast we’ve found ‘mulling spices’ in all of the major supermarkets. Also be sure to check out local Christmas markets for artisanal blends.