Glögg, or mulled wine, is a warm alcoholic beverage enjoyed by Swedes at Lucia celebrations (on Dec. 13) and during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is usually served with raisins and blanched almonds added to the drink and tastes even better if you
Where to Taste Swedish ‘Glögg’ and Holiday Foods in Sonoma County
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Nothing tugs at a Swede’s gastronomic heart strings like glögg at a winter gathering. Just the thought of this Nordic version of mulled wine — scents of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves wafting through the house — can bring a tear to an expatriate’s eye. Next to the joys of a midsummer celebration, the winter glögg party may very well be one of the most nostalgia-inducing of Swedish traditions.
In Sweden, glögg parties kick off the holiday season in workplaces and homes. Abroad, the craving for glögg is the cause of IKEA pilgrimages. For Swedes, Christmastime hasn’t quite arrived until you’ve become suitably tipsy on mulled wine, paired with “lussebullar” (saffron buns) and “pepparkakor” (ginger cookies).
Now, Wine Country Swedes — immigrants like myself and those 25,128 Sonoma County residents claiming Scandinavian ancestry — can find their favorite warm winter drink at home instead of heading to the yellow and blue big box store in Emeryville or Palo Alto.
But you don’t have to be Swedish to enjoy a glass of glögg! Here are two Sonoma County places that serve glögg paired with Swedish food and sweet treats this winter.
God jul (happy holidays) and skål (cheers)!
Pair glögg with Swedish food at Stockhome, Petaluma
The only Swedish restaurant in Wine Country will do its patriotic duty by putting on a traditional “julbord” — a family-friendly meal featuring holiday specialties — three consecutive Sundays in December (Dec. 4, 11 and 18, with seatings available at noon and 5 p.m. To-go julbord is available Dec. 23. Tickets available online).
Swedish chef and restaurant owner Roberth Sundell will serve house-made glögg with candied almonds and raisins, a variety of pickled herring (mustard, grandma’s classic, saffron and leek), dill-cured salmon (“gravlax”), hot mustard-baked Christmas ham (“julskinka”), ginger-glazed spareribs, Swedish meatballs and more. For dessert, guests will enjoy Santa’s rice pudding and homemade treats. All menu items are made from scratch by chef Sundell, including a pig’s head terrine (“sylta”) and pâté of elk (lantpâté).
Sundell’s glögg — made from a recipe he’s been perfecting for nearly 20 years — will also be served at Stockhome throughout December.
“The secret to making good glögg is to keep tasting and adjusting the ingredients to make sure it’s not too sweet, but sweet enough to taste all the spices,” advises Sundell.
The Swedish chef likes to add vodka, cognac or brandy to his glögg for “an extra kick.” He includes plenty of cardamom, ginger, star anise, allspice and orange peel “to bring out the flavor,” and adds dried fruit (plums, apricots, raisins, dried apples) for sweetness. He emphasizes the importance of heating the glögg slowly and making sure it never boils, as this causes the alcohol to evaporate.
During the holiday season, Sundell has particularly fond memories of working at restaurants in Sweden, where glögg would be served to guests outside as they waited in the cold winter night before going inside to the warmth of the julbord.
The Swedish chef, like many of his countrymen, takes pride in keeping up culinary traditions. While he likes to incorporate foreign and modern influences into his cooking, his Stockhome julbord is a classic holiday meal, the kind you would find in a Swedish home on Christmas Eve (Swedes celebrate Christmas on Dec. 24).
Stockhome’s julbord ($90 per person; $50 for kids 5-12, free for kids 4 and under) has two seating times available — noon and 5 p.m. — on Sunday Dec. 4, 11 and 18. Reservations need to be made in advance by purchasing tickets online at stockhomerestaurant.com. Julbord is also available to-go on Dec. 23. 220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707-981-8511.