Nordic Glögg – Sugar-free Mulled Wine
Make Nordic glögg that fills your house with its amazing, seasonal scent. Berries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and red wine, of course, if you wish!
Here in Nordics, we drink glögg to warm us up while we are getting into the holiday spirit, and create a nice sense of hygge with spice aromas filling our homes.
I must say that a nice mug of glögg, candles, and woven blanket is all I dream about all day and all night from mid-October until Christmas. The glögg mug is practically clued into my hand for the whole three days of Christmas. And no, I’m not drinking barrels of red wine, nor am I drunk the entire Christmas.
See, Glögg is actually a little different from traditional mulled wine. It’s a drink made with juice, sugar, and spice and it can be mixed with warmed red wine or vodka or brandy or you can drink it completely alcohol-free. The latter is the most common way here to enjoy it, and it’s also typical to make the drink with glögg syrup and add boiling water to it for a nice, steaming, non-alcoholic mulled wine.
Usually, mulled Christmas drinks are loaded with sugar, but you can easily make this with just a little honey or maple syrup or erythritol to have completely added sugar-free glögg. Or just leave the sweetening out to make a sort of an extract instead of syrup.
How to make Nordic Glögg?
In this post, we first make the syrup (or extract) I mentioned earlier and then mix it with other stuff like wine and vodka.
First, we need some berry juice or a combination of them. Then we choose the spice and infuse them into the liquid.
What juice to choose?
I make the glögg with unsweetened cold pressed berry juices. They give the best results, are healthy, and are often free from added sugar.
Any berry juice works well, but the classical Nordic flavors are black currant, blueberry and lingonberry. The best result comes with mixing different juices. That way, you can also make your own secret glögg recipe.
Nordic mulled wine is really easy to make, just simmer your chosen juice with your chosen spice for half an hour and then let it cool. Once it’s at room temperature, sieve it and add hot water (and brandy) or red wine, and sweeten the drink with honey or maple syrup to taste.
Berry juices that you could use for glogg:
My favorite mix is half blueberry, a quart raspberry and a quart black currant.
I love to use lingonberry and cranberry, but those are two pretty acid berries and it’s hard to make them sweet enough without adding a lot of sweetening. I don’t mind the tartness of these juices but they do make your eyes spin a little. 😀
For a sweeter, but still added sugar-free option, you could add juices like apple, pear and orange or cherry into the mix. They are naturally higher in sugar and help to keep the glögg sweeter without added sweeteners.
Spice and infusion
Add spice into the juice and bring to boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes and then let the juice cool with the spice. Sieve and bottle and that is it.
The typical Scandinavian spice is cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom.
Star anise, nutmeg, sour orange peel, orange, lemon, apples, and pears can be considered. Like I wrote before, make your own secret recipe!
Playing around with seabuckthorn, juniper, licorice and chocolate on top of the ones mentioned before, can make interesting combinations for your own glögg spice mix.
Is it a syrup or is it not?
A syrup is made by dissolving sugar into liquid.
We are trying to make a healthy, sugar-free holiday beverage here, so making a real syrup is not the best of the ideas. What we are after is more like an extract.
To make a syrup, use erythritol or stevia. The consistency is not syrupy, but you can achieve a syrup-like sweetness with those two.
The healthiest option is to make the extract without any added sweetener and sweeten the drink in portions.
Some of the berry juices are already really sweet, and you might not want to add more sweetness to them at all.
Or you want just a little bit of that sweet taste, and your friends and family enjoy it so sweet their teeth hurt.
In that case, use honey or maple syrup and start by adding one teaspoon per mug. Erythritol can be used in this scenario too. And everyone can add the sweetening as much as they need and like.
Adding wine or spitits
Glögg is most often non-alcoholic. We drink it like tea or coffee and kids have it all the time too, so it’s better to be. Just heat some water and add the extract, and you are ready to go to wrap up in all that hygge.
For a punchier version, you’ll need wine or vodka or brandy.
With wine, you can use glögg extract in two ways:
- Heat the glögg extract boiling hot. Take the glögg of the stove and add the wine – red, white and rose can all be used.
- Heat the wine until it steams but don’t let to boil. Take the wine of the stove and add the extract.
Using an extract (or syrup) makes having mulled wine a little easier, especially when using the Method 1 mentioned above. You don’t want to boil that alcohol off right! That way, you don’t have to keep a close eye on the wine while you heat it.
Vodka and brandy
If you want to use vodka or brandy, boil first some water. Measure the extract and the spirit in a mug or glass and pour in hot water. I would call this a Swedish glögg. It will warm your cold toes and fingers in no time; some inner heat is guaranteed. 😀
Sugar Free Mulled Wine
- 0,5 l unsweetened cold pressed berry juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 inch piece of ginger sliced
- 5 whole cardamom pods cut open
- 5 cloves
- honey or maple syrup to taste
- Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Let to boil, covered with a lid, for a couple of minutes, then simmer it for half an hour.
- Turn off the stove and let the mulled wine cool to room temperature.
- Use 1 part extract and 2 parts hot water or red wine and sweeten with honey or maple syrup or erythtirol.