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Hot spiced wine was an essential part of holiday celebrations for Rik Olsson while growing up in Sweden. He remembers making and drinking glögg (pronounced “glug”), as it’s called in Swedish, every year around Christmastime “since I was a kid,” he said.
When he moved to Grand Junction in 1997, Olsson brought the tradition with him. It’s no secret that mulled wine is also a popular holiday beverage in the United States, so when a friend suggested Olsson bottle and sell his recipe, he decided to start a side business.
In 2015, Olsson and Per-Magnus Persson, a fellow Swede and his business partner, launched Two Swedes Glögg, which sells the seasonal red wine by the bottle already spiced and ready for customers to heat up at home on the stove or in a crockpot.
As temperatures cool down and fireplaces heat up, mulled wine is an apt libation to pair with the season. Olsson spilled his secrets for drinkers who want to buy it or make it at home.
Where to buy it
Any easy way to cut down your holiday to-do list is by purchasing pre-made mulled wine from Two Swedes Glögg, based in Grand Junction.
Olsson and Persson’s process is similar to making a blended whiskey. Because the company does not have its own vineyard or winery, it sources red and port wine from Western Slope purveyors such as Two Rivers Winery and Chateau and DeBeque Canyon Winery that it blends for the base. Olsson then infuses brandy from Peach Street Distillers with a house spice blend and sugar. Once he filters out the spices, he mixes the brandy with the wine.
“In Sweden, I usually use vodka to soak the spices,” Olsson said. “The alcohol brings up the alcohol content of the mulled wine. And then, of course, that’s how you get the spice flavor into the mulled wine.”
Two Swedes Glögg is available for sale at stores in the Denver region, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and elsewhere. It’s also available for purchase online through Applejack Wine & Spirits, which ships throughout Colorado, for about $20 per bottle. (Two Swedes also recently launched a summer glögg made from white wine that’s designed to be served chilled.)
Mulled wine is also a seasonal staple on bar and restaurant menus. Drinkers can find it now at Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery in Denver, where executive chef Matt Heikkila gussies up the house merlot with brandy, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice, orange juice and, of course, holiday spices. The winery is serving mulled wine at the Denver Zoo during its holiday lights spectacular.
Also in Denver, Sienna Wine Bar has been serving mulled wine since Thanksgiving. And in Palisade, St. Kathryn Cellars serves mulled wine onsite, as well as bottles and spice blends to-go.
Ready to make your own?
For those interested in making mulled wine at home, Olsson recommends using a shiraz or cabernet sauvignon as the base wine. Heikkila said merlot is another good choice because it’s a full-bodied style that can stand up to the spices without being overpowered. (As a rule of thumb, you’ll want something cheaper so you’re not altering the flavor of an expensive bottle or rare vintage.)
Whatever your choice, the wine you pick is not nearly as important as the spices, according to Olsson. Traditional glögg spices include clove, cardamom, ginger, orange and cinnamon. Home mixologists can make an infusion like Two Swedes does or simply heat the wine up on the stove with the spices to meld the flavor. Use cinnamon sticks for the best spicy flavor.
“It definitely makes a big difference how long you let (the spices) sit in there or how much you use. Experiment a little bit,” he said.
Denver-based Savory Spice sells a mulled wine spice kit ($9.99) for those looking to take the guesswork out of the blend. The shop recommends using 1 tablespoon of spices per 8 ounces of red wine, and infusing the mixture over gentle heat for 15 to 30 minutes.
Otherwise, stores that sell bulk spices such as Whole Foods and Central Market are fitting options to stock up on seasonal flavors. Cheers!