History Of Mulled Wine

 Drinking Mulled Wine dates back a long time in history and to begin with spices were added to less complex tasting wines. Mulled wine has remained very popular in Nordic countries and in Sweden the drink is called called Glögg. As times changed so did Nordic mulled wines and the methods used to produce this inviting and welcoming drink.  

Middle Ages

Wine was first recorded as spiced and heated in Rome during the 2nd century. People drank spiced wine in ancient Greece. The romans sweetened their wine and added herbs and flowers.

During the middle ages spiced wine was very popular in Europe. The herbs were thought to have healing properties and to improve health plus they disguised poor taste in the wine. Hypocrites was one such drink which had had its name from Hyporates of Kos (460-370BC). The Swedish king, Gustav Vasa, loved Claret which was a blend of wine from Rhen, sugar, honey and spices. Lutendrank was the favourite drink of Swedish King Erik XIV. 210 jugs of it were produced for his coronation 1561. Apart from spices the drink also contained milk.

Heated drink with herbs

The word glögg comes from the word glödga, which means to heat up. The phrase "glödgat wine" appeared around 1609. In Europe people left behind the tradition of drinking spiced wine but in Sweden it remained. In the cookbook ”den svenske kocken” from 1837 the following recipe exists:

Red wine is heated with some nutmeg flower, cinnamon and clove next to sugar then lit up. When the flames die out drain and drink warm.

In the middle of the 19th century more glögg recipes appeared in cook books. Jacob Leufvenmark presents four recipes in his cook book ”Handbok i förädling, förskärning och till verkning av viner och spirituosa” från 1870. One can read about how to create traditional glögg but also Katarrh-glögg containing licourice rooth and Icelandic moss. It was said to cure a cough if consumed in the morning.


In the same section of the book there is also another recipe for a drink called Brûlot. This was originally a French drink based on a cognac which was then heated and then flamed. A griddle was placed across the brûlotpan and on the griddle traditional brown or white rock sugar would be placed to melt into the flames. Brûlot was also called cognacs-glögg.

N.P. Ödman describes the refreshing and awakening impact of the brûloten in his book Lite till from 1910. You can read about how students from Värmland were celebrating Lucia and experienced the impact of the drink.:

”… så kom brylån vid nedfällda gardiner och kastade sitt blåvita sken över ansiktena, och det hemska utseende dessa härvid fingo, gav naturligtvis anledning till åtskilliga skämt. Med brylåns inmundigande växte naturligtvis den bacchanaliska yran, och de översvallande känslorna började småningom allt mer söka sig uttryck i dessa högljudda, explosiva glädjeskrin, som värmlänningarna på min tid voro kända för.”

 A Christmas drink of growing popularity

During the 1890s the glögg became a Swedish Christmas tradition. Every wine merchant with a good reputation had their own blend, sold by bottle, with imaginative and creative labels, often with a figure of Santa Claus. 

J.D. Grönstedt & Co was one of the most well known wine merchants in Stockholm. Their wineglögg was based on many different selected wines then blended with sugar, sweet almond, cinnamon, clove, raisin and even vanilla.

Today around 5 million litres of glögg are consumed every Christmas in Sweden! 

Swedish mulled wine

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