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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Winter Apple cider

I wrote last year about some seasonal winter drinks available in Estonia. Here’s a new one that popped up on the shelves this year: Kiss Winter Apple cider.

I expected it to taste a bit like this Woodchuck Fall cider I tried in the States in September but never had a chance to write about. It had a very distinct cinnamon flavor to it.

I have to say that I think the Winter Apple cider is even better! Rather than just cinnamon, it contains many flavors you’d expect to find in a glass of mulled wine— citrus, a touch of cardamom, maybe even a bit of clove. True, the Kiss cider is sweet, not dry like the Woodchuck, but the warm wintery flavors work and give it a lot of dimension. Strangely enough, there is a label on the bottle that says “Try it warm!”, but I can’t imagine heating up a carbonated beverage, so I’ll just stick to enjoying it cold.

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Wintry drinks

While my favorite cold-weather drink is obviously glögg, I also like trying the special winter brews many Estonian breweries come out with in December.  Many of these seasonal brews have the word jõulud or Christmas in the name, but they’re usually available through February or so. Here’s a look at some of the ones we’ve tried this winter.

This is A. le Coq‘s Christmas Porter. It’s somewhat rich and not very bitter, and I should also point out that the alcohol content clocks in at 6.5%. This lightweight right here definitely doesn’t need to be drinking strong beers on a regular basis, but it was fun (hehe) to try this one. Also, if I may be nostalgic for a minute, during the first winter I ever spent in Estonia (2005) A. le Coq’s seasonal offering was a Chocolate Porter that I really liked. I wish they’d bring it back since the Christmas Porter definitely doesn’t have as much of a chocolate flavor.

The name of Puls brewery’s holiday beer is quite dramatic– Jõulu Legend, or Christmas Legend. I unfortunately don’t remember very much about this one, except that it was pleasant enough and had a more normal alcohol content (5.4%) than the A. le Coq beer did.

I actually really like this one, also by the Puls company. It’s Jõulusiider, or Christmas Cider. The label doesn’t say what it’s supposed to taste like, but I definitely get a taste of cranberries (or lingonberries) with a hint of cinnamon and cardamom. It’s very sweet, like Estonian ciders tend to be, but I still like the subtle spice flavors and have enjoyed a few bottles of this in recent weeks. Actually, I think I might go stock up on a few more before we get too far from the holidays and they pull these from the shelves.

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It’s glögg season!

Today was the first significant snowfall of the season in Estonia. There’s something so wonderful about the first snow coming, since it brings some brightness to the long, dark nights (and the cloudy days). So many times at work today I found myself just staring out the window at the gently falling snow and the white-coated branches on the trees, feeling excited about Christmas and the season in general. Appropriately enough, today I also had my first glögg of the season! Glögg is red wine gently heated with various spices and citrus peels, and it is most definitely one of my favorite things about the winter. You can really only drink it when it’s cold enough outside– hot wine in any weather seems gross. But when it’s dark and bitterly cold and you need something to bring some life back into your fingers and your soul, glögg is the best thing ever. I already can’t wait for my next glass…

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Glögg

Ah, glögg.  As fun to say as it is to drink. It goes by many names—if you want to avoid scary umlauts, you can just call it mulled wine. The Germans call it glühwein, the Finnish glögi, and the Estonians hõõgvein. The word glögg is Swedish, a language that we generally avoid around here, but it’s easier for me to say than the Estonian name (any non-native Estonian speakers understand the difficulties caused by the letter õ). The basic formula is red wine heated (but never to boiling!) with sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, citrus peel, and other seasonings. It’s served hot, and one has the option of putting raisins and almond slices in their cup (they soak up the wine and become sooo delicious… I am definitely a fan of this option). There are a million variations in terms of what wine to use and what spices or booze to add. Bottled alcoholic versions or non-alcoholic mixes are available in Estonia.

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Christmas Eve glögg on the stovetop

When the weather starts getting cold and dark here in Estonia, one thing that keeps my spirits up is the prospect that it will soon be glögg season. It’s served in just about every café and restaurant here, which is another thing I missed when back in the States. The spices and red wine smell like warmth and Christmas, the glass warms your hands, and the red wine  makes you pleasantly relaxed.

My mother used to make glögg on Christmas Eve, while we waited for our holiday dinner to be ready. As a child, I seem to remember finding the alcohol fumes wafting up repulsive. Luckily for me, my mother made a non-alcoholic version from cranberry juice, which I loved. I can’t remember exactly when I transitioned over to the grown-up stuff. If somebody were to offer me a glass of the juice version now, I probably wouldn’t turn it down. But for really coping with the profound cold and darkness of an Estonian winter, the real stuff is in order.

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