Experimenters in Spiced Wine – Anno 2017

On the blog I have talked about medieval spiced wine before. My boyfriend and I have decided that we want to start going to medieval reenactment markeds as spice wine merchants. To do this we of course had to get the clothing and gear, more about that in another post. We are going to our first marked in little under two weeks.

For the last month I have done experiments to source the best (cheap) wine to use for the spiced wines.

Wine history – choosing the right wine

We have been looking for a white and a red wine to use for our medieval spiced wine. We knew that the best white wine to use would be a young, sweet German wine, but for the red wine we had no idea – other than the fact that it would also have to be a young wine.

In the middle ages and up until the early modern period wine was stored in big wooden wine casks (or barrels). Which is perfect for flavouring and maturing wine but really unfortunate for long-term storage and really poor for transportation. What would  happen is that the wine would turn vinegary really quickly. Over time that resulted in a medieval preference for younger wines. In Denmark most of (at least the white) wine imported was from Germany. We also knew that the wine would have to be relatively cheap to keep cost done so we would have a bit of a profit on the finished product.

So in last month we brought a selection of five red and five white wines. I have had them sitting in the kitchen until a few weeks ago waiting for me to have time to do something with them. I finally had the time last week.

Preparing the lutendranck

Adapting the recipe and getting the proportions right

First I did a batch of the red wine – hypocras. Each wine was made in a big glass jar separately with the same mix of spices: I measured out all the spices, heated a bit of each bottle with the sugar to dissolve it (separately) measured out the portion of the spices into jar for each wine, so they were all the same (or as close to that you get with whole spices). Then we added the wine and let it sit overnight, strained it and put it into bottles. We did the same with the white wine (Lutendranck) a few days later.

The testing sessions

Then we did a little wine tasting, just my hubby and me the night of the straining. We tasted quite small amounts and rated each of the wine. The hubby toke careful notes as he is known to do throughout the process.

This weekend we had two of our friends over for dinner. We cooked a few medieval dishes (more on that later) and tasted the wine afterwards. They helped us taste the wine and everyone toke notes and made comments the taste, to help us determine the best wine for both the hypocras and the lutendranck. It turned out that one of the red wines was quite different and I will use that to make my own recipe based on the sources to create a third option. In the end we ended up with ranked lists of both wine types that we could take with us when buying the bulk wine for the marked.

The finished experiments ready for tasting.

I still need to work with the lutendranck recipe as I am not quite happy with the balance of sugar and wine and the spice mix is also still a bit off, but I am sure I will get there before the weekend, where we will make the wine in bulk.

Feather experiments

Edit 5/5: Today I experimented with the sugar, cardamom and grains of paradise levels. I also worked on figuring out if the cardamom should be ground up or not.

Edit: 9/5: We had another wine tasting with my parents’ as test subjects and they helped us work out which version of the recipe that worked best. I have added it below the images.

Print Recipe
Hypocras 1
A medieval spiced wine that was popular way up until the 1800's. This simple version of the recipe is really easy to make and quite tasty. Recipe from 1577
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
bottle
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
bottle
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. It is a good idea to heat a cup of wine with the sugar to dissolve it. Mix it with the rest of the mix.
  2. Mix the spices and the wine.
  3. Let it sit (over night)
  4. Strain the spices out of the wine
  5. Bottle the wine. The wine is drinkable right away, but I think it taste better a few days after it is bottled, as the taste becomes rounded and less sharp.
  6. The wine keeps well in a closed bottle.
Recipe Notes

Use whole cinnamon sticks. You can bash them up a little bit. I use fresh galanga and ginger, but it should properly really be dried roots - as a danish doctor would properly not be able to get a hold of the fresh roots. Good East Asian stores tend to have galanga,

 

Print Recipe
Lutendranck 2
Lutendranck is a medieval sweetened and spiced white wine that was typically enjoyed cold. It is a light and refreshing thing to drink on a hot summer day.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 24 hours
Servings
bottle
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 24 hours
Servings
bottle
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Use whole spices - this will give you the least cloudy finished result. If you use whole cardamom just brake open the pods but leave the grains whole. If you are using ground spices, put them in a fine tea filter or they will be almost impossible to separate from the wine.
  2. Mix about one fifth of the wine with the sugar and spices in a pot. Heat the wine (do not boil it) until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Mix the wine and the sweeten wine and place it in a big jar overnight.
  4. Stain the wine though a sive and a cloth and pour it into a flask. I normally strain it twice, as this will give you the less cloudy result.
  5. The wine will get better if you let it rest for a week or so. But you can drink it right away.
  6. Serve it hot or cold. Though cold would be seen as more sophisticated.
  7. The wine is good for at least the first month, but the taste will continue to change so after a month we sometimes have very good results and sometimes not. So I would try to drink it within a few weeks.
Recipe Notes

Source: Anna Weckerin: En artig oc meget nyttelig Kogebog, København 1648 (1599)


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