The mulled wine gløgg is more than just a spiced wine. It’s about the practice of inviting friends and family over to get cozy and stave off dark, cold Scandinavian winters. Heck, call it hygge. “Gløgg is pretty much always a social activity,” says Emily Vikre, co-founder and CEO of Duluth, Minnesota’s Vikre Distillery.
Despite traveling under the names glögg, glögi, or glühwein depending on the European country you’re in, the intent of the red wine slowly simmered with spices and botanicals remains singular. “From any of those countries, the word is for glowing or warm. So, wine to warm you up, make you glow from the inside,” Vikre says. In Scandinavia, gløgg is tied to homes during the month of December. Families often have their own recipe or—as Vikre, a Norwegian American dual citizen, did growing up—add bottles of premade gløgg mix to wine or fruit juice.
“Like with many things that are Scandinavian,” Vikre says, “there’s a perimeter to how it’s done.” But within the general definition of gløgg exist choose-your-own-adventure options. Commonly served
as part of a snack spread (Vikre notes gingersnaps paired with marmalade and blue cheese are traditional), gløgg can be made alcohol-free by infusing fruit juice, as well as extra-potent with additions of brandy, aquavit, and port. The important thing is not to rush the steeping period for
maximum coziness. “You just associate it with the feeling of having come in from the cold,
feeling brisk and warming back up,” Vikre says.