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Swedes up in arms over EU Christmas glögg 'ban'

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Swedes up in arms over EU Christmas glögg 'ban'
Traditional Swedish glögg, similar to mulled wine. Photo: Leif R Jansson / TT
15:23 CEST+02:00
There are few things more precious to Swedes than their traditional drinking habits, and a new EU-wide rule change affecting one of their favourite Christmas drinks has some of the normally tranquil Scandinavians up in arms.

A yuletide tradition in Sweden since the 1800s, glögg (a variation of mulled wine) is consumed at parties and gatherings throughout the Christmas period, and is often strengthened with additional spirits to give it an extra kick.

But now, some drinks previously labelled as glögg will no longer be allowed to carry that name, with revised EU legislation on the labelling of aromatized wine products kicking in.

The rule changes mean that in order to be called glögg, the alcohol in the drink must come from wine spirits or dried grape distillates. If the alcohol comes from something else like distilled sugar however, it can no longer be called glögg.

That means that some “starkvinsglögg” (fortified glögg) products which are strengthened with spirits like rum or whisky will have to change their names. And judging by some of the over 145 Facebook posts in response to the Svenska Dagbladet article which broke the news, many Swedes aren’t happy.

Nya regelverk inom EU gör att vinglögg bara får innehålla smaksatta råvaror från druvor. Sprit från sockerrör och sädeslag blir därmed inte tillåtna längre. Systembolaget har redan agerat.

Posted by Svenska Dagbladet - SvD on Monday, 10 October 2016

“The EU’s incompetent idiots have once again shown what big questions they work with,” wrote Bengt Runner. “I have always been against the EU,” added Elena Nilsson.

"Bloody EU. Even more rules and prohibitions from there: a vote on membership now just as the wise English people done!" demanded Arto Rainola.

Lars Kamerlin attempted to bring a more measured tone to the discussion however, pointing out that “the EU hasn’t stopped anything. It’s just a question of what can be called glögg”.

He wasn’t wrong. In a statement provided to The Local, Swedish state-owned alcohol monopoly Systembolaget explained that Swedes will still be able to get a hold of their favourite drinks this Christmas.

“In order to continue to sell products which have for a long time been part of our Swedish drinking tradition, Systembolaget has broadened our ‘glögg’ section so that it also includes ‘other Christmas drinks’, for example seasoned drinks where the producer chooses to add alcohol in the form of rum or whisky,” Systembolaget’s deputy head of press Ida Ingerö wrote.

So in other words, stronger forms of glögg will still be available in Sweden, and they will still be placed right next to all the other kinds of glögg, they just won’t be called glögg anymore. Is that really cause for Swexit?

RECIPE: How to make your own Swedish glögg

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