With the holiday season officially underway wineries in Solvang are putting Glögg on their menus as an ode to tradition in Nordic countries where the warm drink is considered a necessity, right next to mittens and a fire.
Popular in Denmark around the Christmas holidays, glögg — pronounced “glug” — is loosely described as mulled wine containing a variety of fruits, spices and varying liquors.
Among the participating wineries is Casa Cassara, on the corner of Mission Drive and Atterdag Road in Solvang.
“We’ve done mulled wine every year at Christmas time,” said Dan Cassara, the winery’s owner and glögg maker.
Although it may not be traditional, Casa Cassara’s recipe for glögg approaches the drink with a twist that makes it easy for anyone to make it in their own kitchen.
Red wine, not hard to find in the Santa Ynez Valley, is the base for glögg and in Casa Cassarra’s case it’s their very own bottle of Sam’s Dago Red.
Sam’s Dago Red is made in honor of Cassara’s grandfather, an Italian immigrant, born Angelo Cassarra.
“Sam was my grandfather,” Cassara said recently, as he worked on a simmering batch of the festive drink. “My father got into the wine business because he remembered his father making his own drinking wine in his Chicago basement.”
The bottle features a photo of Sam in his business suit, taken after he returned from serving the United States in World War I.
Although Casa Cassara’s glögg is made without the use of hard liquor, in Scandinavian countries rum or brandy is usually added to the mix, giving the drink a sweeter, warmer feel.
For some added sweetness, orange juice and honey are mixed into the batch, followed by aromatic spices for additional flavor.
Finally, warm it up and it’s ready to serve, but don't let it boil — lest you diffuse the alcohol.
“The true Scandinavian ones [glögg] usually have cardamon seeds in them or blanched almonds,” said Cassara.
Follow the recipe below to make your own batch of homemade glögg.
Casa Cassara Glögg:
• 1 (750 ml) bottle of Sam’s Dago Red
• 2 cups orange juice
• 1/4 cup of honey
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 20 whole Allspice
• 1/2 cup cranberry raisins
• 1 whole nutmeg
Combine the orange juice, wine, and honey in a crock pot. Put the cinnamon sticks, allspice and raisins in crock pot and set on low. When it is done percolating remove the percolator basket, and dump the raisins and cinnamon sticks into the pot.
Optional: Add 1 oz. of Casa Cassara Brandy or Casa Cassara Tawney Port per cup
Garnish with fresh oranges and serve!