We agree wholeheartedly with Chicagoist's Chuck Sudo, Glögg is the way to make it through the winter. But let's be serious -- are we going to make our own Glögg? No, we are lazy. That is why we are drinking spiced, spiked wine instead of doing laundry.
So for your benefit, Erica and went to Binny's this weekend and said, "give us one of each Glögg you have. We're gonna have an old-fashioned Glögg-off!"
We decided to drink samples of each bottle in order of ascending alcohol content, under some theory that that would let us better retain our taste buds through the process. To clear our palate between Glöggs we had some slices of Manchego (an incredible Spanish cheese) that we had also picked up at Binny's after being enticed by an in-store tasting with actual Spanish people. And for times' sake, we didn't use a double-boiler or anything fancy to heat the Glöggs -- we microwaved them in demitasse cups for 20 seconds. (Cf. "lazy" above. Also, that's how we drank Mr. Hans' all last winter.)
So we started with St. Christopher Glühwein at 8.5% alcohol by volume. Now, St. Christopher is a) from Germany, not Scandinavia and b) not actually a Glögg because there's no distilled liquor added to the wine. But you know what, it's pretty tasty. The back of the bottle says it contains red table wine, sugar and aromatic spices (cinnamon and clove). And that seems to be enough -- subtle but tasty, and it would be pretty easy to add a shot of vodka or brandy to punch it up if you felt you needed that (I think mixing two liquids doesn't violate my laziness rules). And it's $5.99 for a 1 liter bottle.
Next up was Vin Glögg, "A Winter Wine," from Glunz Family Winery & Cellars, at 13.5% alc/vol. We had high-hopes for Vin Glögg -- it's local (-ish. Glunz are in Greyslake, but the Glögg is made with California port and red wine), in a very attractive bottle, and is flavored with blended oils of citrus fruits, nuts, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, "and a couple of secret ingredients." And is it ever flavored! As soon as we opened the bottle we exclaimed, "citrus-time!" Vin Glögg is almost over-poweringly citrused and spiced. Erica says it was like drinking a fruity drink, rather than wine. A tag on the bottle suggests that "some folks like to add a cinnamon stick or a couple of cloves or a twist of lemon or orange rind" but I can't imagine doing so -- the resulting flavor explosion might kill you. $9.99 for a 1 liter bottle.
And last, but not least, our old friend Mr. Hans' Andersonville Glögg, "A Taste of Scandinavia". As far as I know, this is the Glögg served at both Hopleaf and Simon's. We first encountered Glögg at the Hopleaf last winter. At the Hopleaf most drinks come in a specific glass and the special glass for Glögg, it turns out, is an old-fashioned punch glass, which always makes me feel like I'm getting drunk with my aunt. And getting drunk you will be -- Mr. Hans' is a stiff 19% alc/vol. At our tasting, we struggled hard to discern what might be the spices making up the "fine wines, brandies, and select spices" that go into Mr. Hans', but the best we could come up with was "rocket fuel." But if you come in from the cold and want something to warm your toes, Mr. Hans' Rocket Fuel may be just the ticket. $9.99 for a 750 ml bottle.
Without going into the complicated rating system we used, we give the Glögg-off Gold Medal to the not-a-Glögg-at all St. Christopher Glühwein, the Silver to Mr. Hans', and the Bronze to Vin Glögg.
As we invite some friends over to help us finish off the 2.75 liters of Glögg we have in our kitchen, we may try some of the suggested additions to Glögg drinking, like adding a raisins and a blanched almond to each cup. But that might be too much like work.
Oh, and while we're on the topic of hot alcoholic beverages, I'll mention our other favorite no-work-but-heating-it beverage, also a Hopleaf discovery: Quelque Chose. A tart cherry beer, I'm willing to go the extra mile and get out a pan of water to gently heat a bottle of Quelque Chose.
(Originally posted on the Chicago Metblog, Dec 19, 2005: Glögg Off!)