“I’d give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.” -Ophelia, Hamlet
So get this: The Ancient Romans actually made this beverage where they immersed violet blossoms in wine. Naturally, I had to try it.
The finished product is quirky. As the mixture ages, the color leaches out of the violets, leaving them looking sort of like wispy ghost-flowers. The flavor, when all is said and done, is… quirky. It’s floral and sweet, with some tartness from the aging wine. A smidge of wildflower honey compliments the hint of violets quite nicely. Really, though, the big appeal is in the appearance and uniqueness.
I’m looking forward to making a batch of this every spring, next time with some of my own wine as the base!
Why it should be in the Next Book:
Doesn’t it just sound like something from a GRRM book? I mean, come on.
It’s got all the inherent threat of sinister syllables, and the exotic flair of being made with flowers. It’s a recipe from Ancient Rome, a culture fabulously known for their decadent fare. I imagine it being served across the Narrow Sea, where they have other exotic fare such as persimmon wine and honeyed locusts.
Cook’s Notes: This beverage can have a mild laxative effect. Consider yourself duly warned!
…folia, albo sublato, lino inseris ut sutilis facias et uino quam plurimas infundes, ut septem diebus in uino sint. post septem dies rosam de uino tollis, et alias sutiles recentes similiter mittis, ut per dies septem in uino requiescant, et rosam eximis. similiter et tertio facies, et rosam eximis et uinum colas et, cum ad bibendum uoles uti, addito melle rosatum conficies. sane custodito ut rosam a rore siccam et optimam mittas. Similiter ut supra, et de uiola uiolacium facies, et eodem modo melle temperabis. -Apicius, 4th Century
PETALS, THE LOWER WHITE PART REMOVED, SEWED INTO A LINEN BAG AND IMMERSED IN WINE FOR SEVEN DAYS. THEREUPON ADD A SACK OF NEW PETALS WHICH ALLOW TO DRAW FOR ANOTHER SEVEN DAYS. AGAIN REMOVE THE OLD PETALS AND REPLACE THEM BY FRESH ONES FOR ANOTHER WEEK; THEN STRAIN THE WINE THROUGH THE COLANDER. BEFORE SERVING, ADD HONEY SWEETENING TO TASTE. TAKE CARE THAT ONLY THE BEST PETALS FREE FROM DEW BE USED FOR SOAKING… IN A SIMILAR WAY AS ABOVE LIKE THE ROSE WINE VIOLET WINE IS MADE OF FRESH VIOLETS, AND TEMPERED WITH HONEY, AS DIRECTED.
- 6 cups violet blossoms, each picked 1 week apart.
- 4 cups mild white wine (pinot grigio or chenin blanc should do)
- honey, to taste
Pick 2 cups of violets at a time. Strip blossoms from stems, discarding the green parts, which would make it bitter. Place the petals in a linen sack, and suspend this sack in the white wine in a wide mouthed jar, covered. Allow to sit for 1 week. Repeat this process twice more, discarding the used petals in between; the wine should turn more purple as it soaks. Sweeten to taste with honey, and serve in small amounts.
4 Comments Add yours
The translation from the Latin recipe mentions rose wine. I do not have violets, but I do have roses. Do you happen to have the source of the recipe, and thus perhaps the rose wine recipe? Or do you think the same method would work, just substituting rose petals?
The source for both this and the rose wine is Apicius- and yes, you can absolutely just substitute rose petals. In fact, the detail in the Latin recipe is for the Rosatum, with a post-script explaining that the Violatium can be made in the same way as that.
Let me know how it turns out, if you try it- this has been on my list for a while!
Hi I was thinking of making this but was wondering how it tasted.
do you think I can use dried violets as well?