A few months ago I was really prepared to go all out this holiday season and bring some awesome craft beers to the family. Then I realized I was gluten intolerant. And well then my plan fell apart. We don't drink eggnog. We've done the
spiked spiced cider thing. And I didn't know about the awesomeness of adding coconut rum to hot chocolate until last night. That all being said, I decided to make a very traditional Scandanavian drink called Glögg. Basically it's mulled wine but with a few perks. I thought it'd be fun to try something out. Little did I know it would be slightly complicated.
On a scale of easy to hard I'd rate this one as, damn, I wish I lived in Sweden where they sell this in pre-made bottles. But I suppose it wouldn't have that added ingredient (love) to make it super special.
Awww...did I just make you tear up? Good.
I took this recipe from this really awesome BBQ blog. I'm not exactly sure what a Swedish drink has to do with BBQ, but apparently it goes well. I don't really doubt it. I just know that it's a bit too cold out to be roasting pig. I did my best to follow it to the letter - it took four trips to different stores to find the right wine, port, liquor, and spices.
Fun aside: I ended up at Total Wine for the port and wine. The lady (I forgot to get her name) was super helpful showing me what "inexpensive dry red wine" would pair well with an "inexpensive American port." In the end we ended up with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Ruby Port from Portugal. We couldn't find "inexpensive" in the American variety. Plus, she was pretty sure these two would work best together and I trust her opinion. Those folks at Total Wine know their wine...and beer.
A Recipe for Swedish Glogg
Yield: Makes about five 750 ml bottles
Preparation time: About 90 minutes
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive dry red wine
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive American port
750 ml bottle inexpensive brandy
10 inches total of cinnamon sticks
15 cardamom seed pods or 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
2 dozen whole cloves
1 orange peel, whole and washed
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange
A few key notes. Blanching almonds is a giant PITA. If you have some
slaves kids you may want to encourage their participation. To blanch almonds, you buy the raw kinds (apparently I'm allergic to these too by the way) and cover them in some boiling water for a minute. Drain and rinse them under cold water and then pat them dry. Here comes the fun part - start peeling those skins off! This is where you probably want to entice two people with tiny hands to get involved. It's not really hard, but one person doing it by herself took nearly an hour. By the time I made it to the end of the almonds they were starting to get soggy. I'm sure way back when these people didn't have email, TV, or other things to do other than make glögg, so I'm sure it was some sort of community activity. I imagine it a lot like the stomping of the grapes from I Love Lucy, you know, a big community of almond peelers peeling almonds without all the craziness.
Second note: you really want to use a stainless steel or porcelain pot. Why? Meathead says so. Apparently the wine will interact with aluminum and/or copper, so you really want stainless steel or porcelain. If you're like me you probably bought your pots a long time ago and didn't really think about whether you were buying stainless steel or aluminum. So how do you tell now if your pot is made of stainless steel or aluminum? Put a magnet to the side. If it sticks - you DEFINITELY have a stainless steel pot. If it doesn't, you may have a stainless steel pot. There are a few other tricks that you can learn over at Mother Earth News to determine whether or not your pot is stainless steel or aluminum. Hopefully the magnet trick works.
The rest of the ingredients are kind of picky. Read up on Amazing Ribs to learn more about the specific ingredients and why you have to use them. I'm not that much of a repetitious gal.
So...here we go...let's make some glögg!
Crack open the cardamom seeds. You don't have to pull the seeds out, just crack 'em. It's really easy to crack seeds of most any kind - put them on a cutting board and put them under a knife. Slam the base of your hand down on the flat side of the knife (dur) and you'll hear a crack. It's sort of therapeutic. Note: This also works for garlic.
Pour the wine and port into your pot. You may want to reserve a small glass for yourself. I don't see anything wrong with this so go ahead. I mean, what's the point of making wine if you don't get to taste the ingredients?! Then put in everything else except the brandy and sugar. I put the cardamom and cloves in a little cheesecloth bag tied with twine to make for easier removal. The rest of the items should be able to be removed pretty simply with a skimmer or slotted spoon.
Put the wine on a medium-low heat while you work on the brandy and sugar.
Pour the sugar into a pan and cover it with about half of the brandy. I think I went with a little more than half, but not by much! I probably should have been conservative with the brandy, but whatever, what's done is done. Heat of over medium heat for awhile while stirring occasionally. Overall I think it took about 25-30 minutes to get to a proper "burbbling" consistency.
Watch the video for bubbles vs. burbbles. Apple was not happy with my file types apparently and you will not be able to view the awesomeness that is burbbling. But, here's a photo just in case you want to burbbles in action.
Once the burbbles are verified, pour the brandy & sugar mix into the wine. Cover and leave on low for an hour. At this point you can taste things and see how it's going. If the mixture isn't sweet enough (this is a great way to check to see if you suffer from diabetes...I jest!) If the mixture isn't sweet enough add in some more sugar or brandy. BUT ADD IT SLOWLY! Put a little in, let it sit for a few more minutes and then taste again.
When it's up to satisfactory taste take it off the heat. Let it cool enough to serve or cool it a bit longer to bottle. Read Meathead's specific instructions for bottling. I reused the port bottles since they came with those fancy corks attached to bottle cap tops. This way I get to keep two bottles stored until next year and I can share the rest with people. Because I was sharing my glögg over the next few days I figured it'd be okay to reuse old bourbon & whiskey bottles as well as my beer growlers.
And when you do serve it you should serve it with a few raisins and almonds in the glass. Although you don't have to. You can just store those separately and get drunk on them later, you know, when you've drunk all the glögg.
There are also some cool perks to this recipe: You get an orange (yay vitamin C!), you get mulled raisins, and your house will smell fantastic! Plus people won't be expecting this as gifts. And who doesn't love giving that unique, unthoughtof gift? Especially the gifts of the unique alcohol variety.