So, my first real post, (disregard the other first one). My delete button is fixed, my computer is charged, and my inspirational blogging music is on. I even have the leftover chocolate wine to drink, (with much more care to not repeat the last disaster). Thus I can follow in Hemingway’s spirited (see what I did there?) footsteps and “write drunk, edit sober”. Just kidding, I’m a terrible drunk writer and getting drunk makes me feel super gross, so that’s not gonna happen. But on the topic of alcohol: to my first post!
What is glögg? Well I’m glad you asked. It’s basically the valhallan drink of choice, or spiced heaven, whichever you prefer. A nordic version of mulled wine. It’s a mixture of equal parts dry red wine and port simmered with spices (I use cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and cardamom) and a quarter part brandy simmered with sugar until it caramelizes a bit. It’s served warm and is delicious always, but especially after working outside in the bitter freezing cold of the winter months. It’s a traditional Scandinavian drink, similar to glühwein in Germany, fitting since it goes perfectly with cold weather and is very hygge. Spicy, warm, and cozy-ing.
Hygge (hue-gah) is another very important winter (or really year round) thing, but unfortunately it’s not a big part of american culture. It doesn’t even have a good english translation. There’s an explanation of it here or you can just google hygge and read whichever link you want. Basically though, it’s the sort of emotional coziness you get from hanging out with good friends or snuggling up in bed with a good book. It’s a really important part of life, especially in winter when it’s easy to get the blues, and is probably part of the reason Scandinavian people are so happy statistically. It’s not very common in the USA, though you can probably find it in places like Minnesota or Wisconsin where there’s a lot of Scandinavian heritage, but it’s been gaining a bit of exposure in recent years. Glögg goes perfectly with it because it warms you up from toes to nose and makes you feel happy and relaxed (it’s stronger than wine, but not at liquor level).
I finished making two batched of glögg last night and reused the wine bottles so I can store them or give them as gifts. I may even trade a bottle for free studio time at my buddies glass studio. It’s good fresh, but it’s even better after it’s aged for a few months to a few years. The flavours really come together.
Now, I’m not Scandinavian at all, unless you count the Scottish/English/Irish melange that is my ancestry; if you don’t know, the vikings invaded both islands many times during the Viking Age between 793 and 1066AD. So, why all the nordic stuff? I blame it on the Scandimania (like that? I just made it up) that happened after history channel aired Vikings and on the good influence of my actually Scandinavian friend who introduced me to the idea of Hygge and delicious alcohol. Vikings is an especially violent and addicting show; think The Rains of Castamere episode of GoT except almost all the time. I both like it and am disturbed by it. I do like how it’s (loosely) based on facts and the cinematography really is gorgeous, not to mention many of the characters are quite complex…and attractive, but the gore level is rather high. If you don’t know what a blood eagle is, you will after watching the show… it’s not nice.
But all of this has wonderfully come together to inspire me to make my own glögg and begin incorporating hygge into my life, and all I can say is, I’m happier for it. Seriously. I’m usually one of those people that gets a bad case of the winter blues. I even have meds for this. And while it’s not a cure all, it certainly has raised my overall happiness index to a point where I can notice a change in my mood. So, if lighting some candles and paying attention to/ doing more of what makes you happy is enough to improve a person’s winter season, I say forget the puritanical ‘pleasure is bad’ philosophy, pull up a chair by the fire, and enjoy a mug of nice, hot glögg with the people you love. You’ve been working hard, give yourself an evening’s vacation and do what you want to do. After all, life really is shorter than we think, so we may as well enjoy the moments while we’re having them.