Have a cup of cheer
Non-alcoholic gløgg mix comes together in a few minutes
Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor
Spiced mulled wine is a tradition that I look forward to every December. I had my first gløgg in tiny cups under the twinkling Christmas lights of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and fell in love with the spiced, rich flavor.
I’ve had many variations since then (German’s Feuerzangenbowle is particularly fun, with its rum-soaked sugar loaf lit on fire), but I keep coming back to the flavor and style of Norwegian gløgg.
You can find premade gløgg mix at Scandinavian stores and IKEA, but, like most things, it is best when made in your own kitchen.
The first time I made gløgg from scratch, I found a recipe from a well-known website. It had four types of alcohol in it, and I had to go to a few different stores to source the cocktail bitters and impressive range of spices. I forgot to start the recipe that morning for its 12-hour maceration, so it wasn’t ready for our family gift-opening party.
When we came home from the 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service, the booziness wafted through the door.
Needless to say, I didn’t make that recipe again.
I wanted to develop a gløgg recipe that could be easily adapted to alcohol-free, simple enough to pull together from ingredients from a typical U.S. grocery store, and fast enough to make for an impromptu visit with friends.
I found the inspiration for non-alcoholic gløgg from Anna Brones, the Swedish-American artist, author of several books, including Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, and all-around inspiring human being. (You can follow her at annabrones.com.)
She recommends a base of a tart fruit juice cordial, such as lingonberry or black currant, which could be hard to find in your local grocery store.
I also loved the approach to gløgg by Stine Mari, the blogger of Ginger with Spice. She created a gløgg concentrate with a fruit juice base and heated-up wine on the side to add to it.
So here’s my recipe: a non-alcoholic gløgg concentrate that tastes excellent on its own that can be assembled in just a few minutes—all of the flavor, none of the headache.
Based on the enthusiastic reaction of my hard-to-impress 5-year-old taste tester, I have a feeling I’ll be making this on repeat through the 12 days of Christmas.
Wishing you and yours a cozy holiday season!
Hjemmelaget gløgg (Homemade mulled wine)
32 oz. fruit juice
1 cup water
2 sticks of cinnamon
10 allspice berries
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 star anise pod
½ orange, sliced
4-inch length of fresh ginger, cut into a few pieces
1 bottle ginger ale (optional)
sliced blanched almonds
thinly sliced oranges (optional)
1 cup ruby port wine
¼ cup raisins
1 bottle inexpensive full-bodied red wine
If using alcohol, put 1 cup of port and ¼ raisins in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine juice, spices, ginger, and orange slices. Heat over medium-high heat until it simmers. If everyone wants the alcohol, add the wine and port at this point. Otherwise, gently heat the wine and port in a separate saucepan just before serving. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 mins or longer.
When ready to serve, strain the mixture with a sieve. Serve in espresso-sized cups, and garnish with sliced almonds, raisins, and a slice of orange. If desired, splash a bit of ginger ale into each cup. Gløgg is especially good when served with pepperkaker and other cookies.
A few side notes:
• Use whole spices, and adjust the combination to your preference. If you substitute ground spices, it makes for a gritty gløgg.
• Fresh cardamom is worth it! I actually have used the same bag of cardamom pods that I got for Christmas about 10 years ago (I’m not kidding) and store them in a sealed bag in my freezer. I crack open the pods and grind up what I need for my recipe with a small mortar and pestle, and the flavor is incredibly fresh.
• I used a juice blend that was apple, cranberry, and grape with no sugar added. It was lovely and balanced and not too sweet. I imagine that pomegranate juice would also be lovely.
Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. She worked on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is also a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the December 27, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.