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December 28, 2012: Glogg (Mulled Wine)

December 28, 2012

GloggBack in the day, when I could afford to have guests over, in the Winter I invariably had Glögg (or mulled wine) on the stove as guests came. The spice and wine mixture filled the whole house with an inviting smell that everyone found warming and almost always got that perfect reaction a host loves to hear, “What IS that great smell?” The warmth of the mulled wine (or cider…each are wonderful) took the chill out of the Winter evening, physically and emotionally. Glögg goes well with most cheese and crackers and many hors d’oeuvres, and is a great set up to a meal. The spiced wine will hold up well against even strong cheeses.

Glögg is the Icelandic name for mulled wine, but you can find similar recipes in just about every European nation. Essentially, wherever Winters are cold, you can find Glögg! The great thing about any mulled wine or cider is that there is no set recipe, so that each time I make it, I get a different aroma/taste. Suggested spices: cinnamon stick, whole cloves, star anise, nutmeg, vanilla bean, and whole fruit peels from lemon or orange. I sometimes will add sliced apples. I suppose it is possible to put too much spice in, so about a teaspoon of whole spices for every cup of wine or cider is just about right. Bring to an almost-boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer. It is important to strain the Glögg before serving so guests don’t choke on a whole clove. When I make this for myself or am in a real hurry, I sometimes will use powdered spices. Just a pinch of each as these are more concentrated. I usually make a large amount and have it on a very slow simmer all evening. Glögg  provides a wonderful smell for the background of the dinner, and does not compete too much with the dinner aromas. This way, if people want some after dinner, it is ready.

No need to buy expensive wines for Glögg. The spices overwhelm the wine flavors anyway. A boxed Cabernet or Sangria is just right. If you want a more “fortified” Glögg, a splash of aquavit (Icelandic: ákavíti or “water of life”) is perfect!

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