Glogg: The lovely wine with an unlovely name

Port, brandy, whisky, raisins, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom: This is punch for grown-ups. Cold, cold grown-ups

Published December 14, 2010 1:20AM (EST)

Sad to say I never met my Grandpa Pete, but his legacy remains in his dedication to celebrating a traditional Swedish Jul. (Well, traditional for this family anyway.) The Jul we celebrate has undoubtedly morphed in many ways, but it always begins with the customary Jultide beverage, glögg, a lovely, sweet, heated drink that goes straight to the head and warms you head to toe. The glögg is just the prelude to an extended two- to three-day event.

Some of the traditions include eating the lutefisk (dried cod preserved with lye, then soaked) with a plastic fork and paper plate so that the fine China and silver don't corrode from the toxic fish. A huge drama is made of how disgusting it tastes; a new family member is usually filmed as she takes her first bite. Next we have an extensive smorgasbord with all varieties of Swedish fare -- some more delectable than others. The lingonberry sauce is a treat as well as the spicy hot mustard that accompanies the Julskinka, aka ham.

The potatiskorv (white sausage) and Bruna bonor (beans) are not for me, and aversion to lutefisk goes without saying. But the glögg recipe must be carried out to the letter, including counting the raisins. I have found that the counted raisins invariably almost equal a 15-ounce box of raisins; nonetheless, the counting must be done! A serving pot, which sits over a small flame, is also essential, along with a ladle and tiny cups. Make sure at least one almond and raisin appear in every serving.

Swedish Glögg

Recipe written straight from Grandpa Pete's hand. He was an engineer and detail was paramount. (Italics my own.) Makes about 48 ounces, 10-12 servings.

1. Put
12 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom seeds

into a flow-through bag and put this into 14 ounces of water. Boil for 10 minutes.

2. Put
30 almonds
70 raisins
2 teaspoons of sugar

into 24 ounces of port wine and heat this (this should not be boiled or even be near boiling -- the alcohol would vaporize). (God forbid.)

3. Mix
8 ounces of brandy
4 ounces of whisky

together. This is separate from 1. and 2. (This could be 8 ounces whisky and 4 ounces brandy.) (Is he offering alternative or admitting uncertainty?)

Now pour the 14 ounces of water (from No. 1) into the port wine (No. 2) and then add the mixture of brandy and whisky (No. 3).

Serve immediately. Keep this warm with a flame.

By Meg Whitlock

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