It's often hard to feel in sync with seasons in San Francisco given that it can be sunny and 60 degrees in December and unbearably chilly in the summer months. If you aren't yet feeling the Christmas spirit, gather your friends for a night of glögg, a wonderful Swedish mulled wine guaranteed to bring out the warmth and joy of the holiday season.
Many years ago my very dear, old friend Kristi first introduced me to glögg back when we both lived in Boston. It was the perfect drink for a chilly wintery night, and was sure to make you warm and toasty inside. To be fair, glögg isn't just mulled wine, it is mulled wine topped off with brandy (sometimes vodka). So it definitely has a kick!
Although San Francisco doesn't compete with Boston or Chicago in the cold factor (let's be honest, we don't really need a reason to drink), we gathered friends (and maybe a Swedish dad to play judge) for a little glögg competition. My Swedish friend brought over bottled glögg, apparently no one makes homemade glögg anymore in Sweden. I, of course, made homemade glögg. And the taste off began!
It is pretty easy to make glögg at home. Simply simmer red wine or a mixture of red wine and port with spices including cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and orange rind, but do not let boil. Add sugar along with blanched almonds and raisins. Continue to simmer for about an hour, taking care to keep the wine from boiling. Serve hot in small cups and top with brandy or vodka, if desired. I should warn that the glögg will be ridiculously strong if you do add brandy or vodka.
Be sure to include some almonds and raisins in the glass, but avoid serving the spices. You can tie the spices in a bundle of cheese cloth or leave them loose.
In case you are wondering, it was a close call, but ultimately the homemade glögg was the absolute favorite.
2 bottles of red wine (something robust and fruity) OR 1.5 bottles of red wine and 0.5 bottle of port
20 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
rind of 1 orange
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup of sugar
In a large pot, add 2 bottles of red wine or a mixture of 1.5 bottles of red wine and 1/2 bottle of port. Heat over medium heat, add cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and orange rind. You can tie the spices in a bundle of cheese cloth or leave them loose. Reduce the heat to low and do not let boil. Add sugar along with blanched almonds and raisins. Continue to simmer for about an hour, taking care to keep the wine from boiling.
Ladle the glögg into small cups along with some almonds and raisins and top with a little brandy or vodka, if desired. Avoid serving the spices.