Wherever you are right now, dear reader, my money’s on it being cold outside. Granted you could be somewhere temperate – the southern hemisphere for instance – in which case why not bookmark this for winter, because the last thing you want right now is a hot mug of spice infused heaven washing down your bare, tanned, fortunate throat. But for those of us who have to wrap up warm to walk the streets and – in a job without windows – wouldn’t see the sun until March, I have a tasty little treat for you that, like all treats, is ripe for abuse.
I only discovered Gløgg – hot spiced wine – a few years ago in Scandinavia, and much like when I first stumbled across masturbation, I decided it surely had to be my own invention rather than an encounter with something people have been enjoying for a long, long time; otherwise however did people manage to leave the house in winter?
After many good nights around Danish stoves putting the world to rights I was pleased to find that Gløgg indeed existed over here, going by the name of Mulled Wine. Over there, you can get a small bottle of mixture and just throw that in with the cheapest rot-gut red wine you can find; you can also get Gløgg ready made – all you need to do is warm it up; Irma does the best we found, which is where we discovered the joy of adding rum to the mix. Over here, I’ve seen ready made mulled wine in the supermarkets but it’s dearer and not as fun so have yet to try it.
Anyway, as part of the necessary festive preparations for cajoling my spirit into feeling anything other than melancholy deviancy, I recently made my first Gløgg of the season. A full and detailed recipe comes later but for this first batch I cheated and used Schwartz Mulled Wine Spice. Grab a box of it for a quid-something in the supermarket and you get six tea-bag type sachets with the spices in. I appeared to have an older box and one with a ‘Great New Taste’ – the older one suggested brandy in the recipe so I went with that:
- 75cl bottle red wine (I measured it out of one of those bladders in a box)
- 200ml orange juice (I squeezed in the juice from half an orange)
- 3 tbs brown sugar (I just used granulated sugar)
- 150ml brandy (I had 35cl of rum and 225cl of wine so I just poured in a rough third of the rum)
- 1 orange, sliced (for zesty garnish, and the scraps I squeezed and added to the mix)
- 2 of the spice sachets
Basically, I just threw everything except the rum and orange slices into a saucepan and slowly heated the mix til just below boiling point (don’t forget and leave it to boil) and kept it there for ten minutes, at the end I added the rum and the slices – one per mug.
You can do it all from scratch – and I tend to have most of the spices from making curries and the like – but you have to piss about with measuring and sieving which is fine for the first batch but after a few vats have been consumed and the banter has turned to darker avenues then everything invariably descends into a ‘kids cooking breakfast for mummy in a meth lab’ situation.
For those of you who already have a decently stocked kitchen or are prepared to head out to the market to buy a load of spices you may well – after the initial childlike joy has worn off – never use again, here is a good recipe:
- 1 bottle of red wine (some use port or a mixture of both)
- 150ml dark rum (try also vodka, whisky, schnapps or aquavit if you fancy)
- 10 cardamom pods (cracked open)
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick (break into pieces)
- The dried peel of half an orange
- 3 tbs brown sugar (honey is a fine substitute)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Slowly dissolve the sugar in the rum over a low heat.
- Meanwhile, tie all the dry ingredients up in a clean tea-towel.
- Add the wine and juice to the rum and sugar together with the spice bag.
- Be careful not to boil but keep the heat high for 45mins (I say 45 but you’ll get impatient and start drinking it after 30 but that’s fine.)
- If so inclined, add one small handful of raisins and one of sliced almonds at the same time as the wine; serve a little in each of the mugs but for the love of god check that nobody has a nut allergy (like me) and NO, serving them a drink without nuts in it doesn’t negate the threat, you idiot.
- Above all, don’t be afraid to experiment; adding more sugar or liquor for taste can be a delicate balancing act but after a few large mugs you’ll find such matters matter less.
By the way, there’s never any harm in reheating a mug of Gløgg in the microwave; in fact, if you have a cooking pot large – and clean – enough you can make a motherload up then people can just go ladle themselves a drink then gently nuke it.
Just be aware, Gløgg is tasty, tasty, sugary rocket fuel for the cold times that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. It can send you off to cosy dream land or if enjoyed copiously in suitable company could see you wrestling with a stranger, half naked and covered in broken glass, swearing at the police in German when they came to arrest me.
Glædelig Jul og Godt Nyt År! or as they say this time of year where I come from: Get your fucking hands off my drink, you pig. I hate you, why did I ever marry you? You disgusting, pitiful man.