Swedish Language Blog

Glögg: Swedish Christmas in a Cup Posted by on Dec 24, 2020 in Culture, Swedish Language

Swedish Glögg. Photo: Helena Wahlman / Image Bank Sweden

Mulled wine,
Glühwein, glögg! A cup of this warm, aromatic drink is a must around Christmas time. Swedes purchase glögg in a ready-made bottle or brew their own with red wine, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom – serve with a pepparkaka, and you’re all set! This week, we’ll learn a bit about the history of glögg in Sweden, with some glögg-related vocab sprinkled in, and I’ll even share my personal glögg recipe.

One thing my Swedish American family has come to appreciate at Christmastime is glögg. A relatively new tradition for us, we started drinking it at family gatherings only after I spent time in Sweden. Now it’s a request I get around the holidays, and I brew up a batch to share on both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Vad är glögg? What is glögg?

Simply put, glögg is mulled wine with spices, really similar to German Glühwein. Traditionally, it’s made with rödvin (red wine), and warming spices like ingefära (ginger), kanel (cinnamon), kardemumma (cardamom), and nejlika (cloves). For a boozy punch that will clear out those sinuses, most folks add alcohol to their glögg as well, typically vodka, brandy, or whisky, but really it’s brewer’s choice!

Glöggens historia / The History of glögg
Spicing wine was common in the middle ages throughout Europe, originally as a way to cover up the taste of bad wine. A variety of glögg called Lutendrank showed up in 1500’s Sweden and was King Erik XIV’s favorite. It contained kryddor, mjölk och vin (spices, milk, and wine). Modern glögg’s debut in written history came in 1609 as glödgat win, derived from the verb glödga, to “warm-up.” It gained popularity in the 1800’s with general society and when folks started adding home-brewed brännvin to their glögg. Brännvin is an alcohol made from potatoes or grain, distilled with spices, similar to modern akvavit.

Today, around 7 million bottles of glögg are sold in Sweden each year. For some insight into how the modern glögg retailers like Blossa and Tindra compare see this article from Tasteline.

Chelseas glögg recept / Chelsea’s glögg recipe

With inspiration from both Swedish and Americanized recipes, the measurements are in cups in order to share this with my American friends and family. Euro friends, there are plenty of deciliter recipes available to google in both English and Swedish 🙂

*Pro tips:
Köp inte dyrt vin – Don’t buy expensive wine
for your glögg, it’s just not necessary. K
oka inte glöggen – Don’t boil the glögg. You run the risk of losing the alcohol content and also over-steeping the glögg, making it bitter)

Ingredienser / Ingredients:

Vin och alkohol / Wine and alcohol

  • 1.5 liter bottle of port wine, or sweet blend
  • 1 bottle of wine on the dry side, or whatever bottle you have in the cupboard
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup white rum

* you can sort of use a “wop or grogg” mentality here, whatever you have in your cabinet, dump it in if you think it would go well! I suggest vodka, whiskey, bourbon…

Kryddor / Spices:

  • 12 kardemummakärnor (cardamom pods)
  • 4 kanelstång (cinnamon sticks)
  • 12 hel kryddnejlika (whole cloves)
  • 1/2 orange, zested, and its juice
  • 1-inch of raw ingefära (ginger) sliced

OR Find a tea combo that has these flavors and steep 10+ tea bags into the glögg!

  • ½ cup socker (white sugar), or ⅛ cup of honung (honey)
  • Russin och hackade mandlar till servering (raisins and sliced almonds for serving) 

Instruktioner / Instructions:

  1. Heat the wine, spices, orange juice, and zest over medium heat until just below the simmer point in a large stockpot.
  2. Let the mixture steep for around 25 minutes. 
  3. Add liquors of choice and sugar to the mix. Stir sugar until dissolved and bring back to just below simmering. 
  4. Taste test! Add more booze or spices to taste. If it’s too dry and too “winey”, add more sugar or a few cups of water to mellow out the wine taste. 
  5. Cool the glögg and strain it. 
  6. To serve, ladle glögg and garnish each serving with a few raisins and almonds.
  7. To store, pour strained glögg into the leftover wine bottles and recap. The glögg will keep for at least 3 months.

There are many different ways to brew glögg. Some recipes call for letting the spices sit in the wine overnight. Some recipes instruct you to spice the alcohol ahead of time, like Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for glögg with white wine and rosé.  Recipes with alkoholfri glögg are made with a juice base or alcohol-free wine like in this recipe from Coop.

Will you be enjoying some glögg this year?

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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.


  1. George A:

    • Chelsea B:

      @George A Skål, George! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I often light my glögg on fire, too! 😄

  2. Carolyn:

    I enjoyed the article. I have fond memories of my parents giving Glogg parties at Christmastime. I’ve even dreamt of those parties a couple of times!