Glögg, Glühwein, Feuerzangenbowle?!

Glögg.

I’d never heard of it before moving to Stockholm, but it didn’t take long to figure out the central role it plays around this time of year.

Glögg.

It’s one of those words which gives you a good idea about its meaning upon first utterance.

Glögg.

That’s got to do with drinking (I love onomatopoeic words).

Walking into a home where glögg is being prepared is walking into sweet warm wafts of wine, cinnamon, and fruit. No wonder, then, that one often learns the word “mysig” soon after learning the word “glögg”. The most common glögg recipes start by simmering wine on the stove along with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and orange. Optionally, aquavit (or other liquors) and/or a wide variety of other spices may be used in the concoction. The hot drink is typically then served in small cups containing raisins and almonds, and subsequently enjoyed in the presence of good company. It must be said that there are as many versions of glögg as there are people who make glögg, so everyone’s recipe will differ.

Glühwein is a very similar drink from the German-speaking countries with some subtle differences. In fact, the two are so similar that I reached out to friends and colleagues to help me define the aspects which set the drinks apart.

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Glühwein can often be found at German Christmas Markets, and having it with a little amaretto or rum is common. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons.

Indisputably, glögg is a funnier word to say.

Beyond that, the differences seem pretty sparse. This dearth of unique characteristics is due to the incredible variety of recipes for both drinks. It seems to me that glögg is more likely to come in small glasses with raisins and almonds, but I’d bet that there are versions of Glühwein that do the exact same. Similarly, while glögg often has liquor and sugar added during the mulling process, Feuerzangenbowle is the ostentatious Glühwein, which in addition to providing a fiery show of flaming sugar cone, is spiked with enough rum and caramelized sugar to challenge your liver and pancreas simultaneously.

Given the overlap in these drinks (not to mention the countless varieties of mulled wine from other countries!), why split hairs? If you like vodka in your glögg, if you use oranges in your Glühwein (and you call it vin chaud), or if you have your own secret combination of ingredients, I hope you find a way to stay warm and enjoy the season with good company.

As a final tip (from personal experience), I recommend that when your boss invites you to a glögg party, you do your best not to break her/his dishes. And if you manage to fail on that point, the best you can hope for is that your boss shrugs it off with “ingen kalas utan kras”.

Thanks to the following people who gave some input prior to this was published: Maja Schlittler, Milena Schönke, Berit Gewert, Anna Krook (sorry again about your glass…)

Header photo credits: Lemsipmatt on Flickr,

All photos labeled for reuse via Google image search.

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