Skål! Swedish Glögg in the Nordquist tradition continues, or Where there is love, it is never truly dark.

Oh, did you think I’d forgotten? C’mon now… I think you know me better than that.

2022 has been a wild ride, in some ways better than 2021, which was only slightly less chaotic and unpredictable than 2020. But as always, that is why we look to the things that bring solace and joy, and comfort. Holiday traditions can be some of those cherished moments.

The tradition of making Swedish Glögg goes back to ages past, and will carry on into the next age. Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. And yet Glögg remains, binding us to the tapestry of All That Is Good. I made my Glögg for this year, as did my eldest son in his own kitchen. This means that there are – at the very least – three generations of Nordquist Tradition Glögg in existence at this very moment. My father will his Glögg soon, if he has not already. This moment was not the beginning of the holidays. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

What is Glögg, you ask? I shall defer to my father’s words…

Glögg, with an umlaut over the “o”, and unpronounceable until imbibed, is a Swedish mulled wine drink that has been served in my family since the dawn of creation. I am told that “Glögg” means “glow” and comes from the traditional way of heating it by plunging a glowing poker from the fire into it. Like reality, Glögg is constructed, and like reality, mutable from one iteration to the next. The origins of the recipe are lost in the fog of Swedish woods, but this is how it goes today:

Take a big pot (size depends on how much you are going to make – multiply the following quantities to increase the volume) and put in a cup of water and a handful of raisins. Make several cheesecloth bags of spices containing about 5 cardamom seeds each (shell cracked) and 5 whole cloves each, as well as a large pinch of orange zest. Fling it in the pot along with 5 or 6 sticks of cinnamon. Over time you can experiment with spice proportions to mutate the taste to suit yours – a variation of “survival of the fittest”. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, add a cup of red wine, and simmer for 15 more minutes [to absorb the concentrated flavors of the spices]. Add a bottle of red wine, cheap but flavorful, and a bottle of port – I use tawny. Cover and heat until steaming, but not boiling. Simmering it uncovered and/or boiling it removes the alcohol, thus altering the fabric of space-time, and wasting everyone’s time. [NOTE: It has been determined that keeping your Glögg at or below 160 degrees F is ideal, as to avoid the evaporation of alcohol]

Glögg can be drunk at any time after completion, but it is best if it sits in the refrigerator for a few days before serving. Be careful when you reheat not to bring it to a boil. Keep it covered when hot. Serve it in a small cup, being sure to include a few raisins, along with a small spoon.

Part of the tradition is to reserve a small portion from year to year to add to each new vintage. This has all manner of metaphoric virtues. I like to think that I am drinking the same Glögg that my dad and I drank 50 years ago, and his father (“Far Far”) before him, and my son and daughter after me.

– John Nordquist (my father)

I have been making Glögg now for most of my adult life, having begun with the addition of a “starter” from my father. The aroma of the spices and wine filling the house has come to symbolize what the holidays mean to me: family, friendship, and an open home to all passers-by.

Happy Holidays, and Skål!!


~ by Sean Nordquist on December 8, 2022.

One Response to “Skål! Swedish Glögg in the Nordquist tradition continues, or Where there is love, it is never truly dark.”

  1. though I have read it again and again, it never ceases to delight me, to bring a smile, and to propel me to rummage around and see if I have any port….. I love this tradition, and I love every generation of Nordquist Men that I know. 🙂 Thanks for posting.

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