Julglögg—Sweden’s Traditional Spiced Wine



From the kitchen of Britta Brones

½ cup raisins

½ cup almonds

5 pieces whole cardamom

5 pieces whole cloves

1 stick cinnamon

1 knob fresh ginger

¼ bottle vodka or unseasoned aquavit

1 bottle red wine (Italian jug wine)

½ bottle Madeira (Paul Masson or port)

¼ cup sugar to taste

Ground spices can be substituted

That’s the original recipe from an old Swedish cookbook. I add ¼ cup (or to taste) of frozen orange juice concentrate instead of the sugar.


Rinse the raisins in hot water (I never bother). Blanch and peel the almonds. Put the raisins, almonds and all the spices in a large enough pot to hold all the ingredients. Pour the vodka over the spices and heat to just below boiling (if it boils, you lose the alcohol) and then keep at low heat for 10-15 minutes to let the spices absorb. Add the wine, Madeira and orange juice. Bring the mixture to just below boiling and allow the mixture to cool and absorb the spices. It is best to prepare the day before consumption as the flavors will improve and the edge will be taken off the alcohol.

For a quicker method, start with heating the vodka and spices, then add the Madeira only for the second heating and then the wine and orange juice for a third heating, which gets much of the same effect. It does get better the longer it sits and with each heating.

For large gatherings or for making in preparation for the entire advent season, I will make a double batch, or more, and add raisins and almonds as necessary during the ensuing weeks. Advent coffee, goodies and glögg are consumed all four Sundays before Christmas. For festive gatherings where the pot will be visible, I take a whole thin-skinned orange, pierce it in many places with a knife point and insert whole cloves in the piercings. I use more cloves this way and eliminate the orange juice. On occasion, I have added bitters if the mix was too sweet. I never use the sugar because, following tradition, we usually serve glögg with many kinds of Swedish cookies and saffron bread so the sugar intake is already over the top.

I have successfully made glögg without using the vodka (in that case use the Madeira in the first heating) in order to keep the alcohol content low; I have also used much less vodka, just enough to wet the spices and then let it boil so the alcohol dissipates. The vodka is the secret to pulling the flavors of the spices together much more quickly.

There are almost as many recipes for glögg in Sweden as there are old farmsteads; many of those recipes are much higher in vodka content, while some use only wine.

Glögg (pronounced like “gluug”) is traditionally served in small cups with handles (think demitasse) with a small spoon to eat the almonds and raisins (beware the cardamom seeds!) and is served very warm.

God Jul och gott Nytt År.