Posts Tagged ‘Bull’s Blood’

bikaver-labelThere was a time (read: Socialism) when all the world knew of Hungarian wine was the acidic if not downright sour-tasting red cuvée Bikavér, or as it is known in the West, Bull’s Blood. Though Bull’s Blood is one of the most popular Hungarian wines, only one company sold it abroad, Eger’s formerly state-owned Hungarovin.

These days, the red of socialism has washed away, but the ruby-colored Bull’s Blood remains, though it is now quite a different animal. This is because local winemakers have taken it upon themselves to reinvigorate, if not rehabilitate, the Bull’s Blood brand. It can be said that this cherished cuvée is one of the most exciting things about contemporary local wine production. While winemakers have gotten quite creative with the re-invention of this stalwart, they still have to conform to certain standards, regulated by the Hungarian Wine Making Act, which was put into place to preserve quality and local heritage. Bull’s Blood must contain three or more grape varietals from Kékfrankos, Blauburger, Portugiser, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Kadarka, and Zweigelt. No grape may comprise more than 50 percent of the mix. All production must come from facilities residing in or around the town of Eger (though the Villany/Szeksazard regions have successfully lobbied to be allowed to produce Bull’s Blood, and have been making Bull’s Blood for some time now.)

Borászat - Felújított borospince Egerben

Legends abound about the wine and its origins. It is said that the Turkish tried to invade the town of Eger during the Ottoman occupation. The men of the village drank deeply of many different wines to fortify their courage for the fight. The wine that spilled from their mouths splashed down their beards and onto their clothing, making them appear as though they had just feasted on blood. The word was passed among the Turkish that the Hungarian warriors were drinking the blood of bulls as nourishment. The frightened Turkish retreated and the invasion was successfully repelled.

We would like to invite the Turkish back, only this time to skip the skirmishes and partake in a glass of Bull’s Blood alongside the locals. It’s more fun that way.



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