Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spiced wine-ing

Hypocras making day today. The spiced wine needs to mature before Christmas and I'll be busy next month.

I have a nice, mellow Cabernet Merlot, with berry and plum overtones, that I'll heat to steaming and to which I shall add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, honey, brown sugar and cardamom pods. Then I let it cool, strain out the debris and bottle.

By Christmas, it will have a full-bodied, syrupy and subtly spiced flavour - just the thing for toasting. And it's good for you: red wine has anti-oxidants to hunt down and absorb free radicals.

Henry VIII had a glass or two to help with his digestion. His breakfast lasted two hours and he tasted every dish laid before him. The 'left overs' were given to the lords and ladies, then any remains went to the staff who prepared his meals. They, at least, preferred to survive on pottage - a dish made of grains soaked in hot water - and had more roughage in it than Henry's meals. The king became obese and suffered for it, probably causing his death, although he also suffered from a continually festering leg wound.

Henry's hypocras contained goldleaf flakes, mine does not. Some recipes also call for ambegris - icky stuff from the intestine of a whale that's been regurgitate. All I can say is: "Oh, the horror!!"

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