“Daenerys held out her cup for Irri to refill. The wine was sweet and strong, redolent with the smell of eastern spices, much superior to the thin Ghiscari wines that had filled her cup of late.” -A Dance with Dragons, p. 204
Oh my. Sweet, redolent with spices, and completely different from anything I’ve tasted? This one is a keeper.
I stumbled onto this recipe in an old cookbook, and knew I had to try it. However, it took some hefty research and input from the blog forums to come up with a workable modern recipe. Imitation wines were very common throughout history, and I think they would have turned up in Westeros as well. I mean, imagine trying to buy wine imported from Asshai. The prices would be so high! So too with this wine.
Malvoisie was a sweet wine that probably originally came from a town on the southern tip of Greece. The name eventually turned into “malmsey” in England, and gained a certain amount of fame when Shakespeare wrote of the Duke of Clarence choosing death by drowning in a barrel of malmsey. Malvoisie was used in cooking, often drizzled over fruit tarts.
In this version, the wine is made sweet with honey, while the really unique combination of spices– coriander, cinnamon, and juniper — give it a mild bite and wild flavors unlike any other brew I’ve made thus far. It matches beautifully the description and aesthetic of the wine Dany is enjoying so much in Dance.
Next time? I might slightly decrease the level of honey, or use a hardier yeast. It was an ideal dessert wine, but could be a bit cloying for some tastes. It could also be a dream if fortified. I suppose I’ll just have to give it a go, and see. 😉
Recipe for Counterfeit Malvoisie
Take an amie of rain water, & make it chafe: then put therein twenty & seven pots of Spanish honey, & put it into the water, & make it well in the water, that it will be well melted, & make it boil well one hour, & skim it well, & put it to boil with half a pound of coriander, & half a pound of juniper berries or grains of pecque [oak? – DM], & eight ounces of crushed cinnamon: when boiled put it into a bottle or in a cask, & leave it so two days: then make a hole in the cask, or bottle, or three near the bottom, and & take out that which is clear: that which remains in the cask must be passed through a sack as you can, & put it into the cask, & keep it so: it is better in three years than the first year. Note for good flavor that is as sweet, before it is put on the fire, put therein a fresh egg well new, if the egg goes to sink in the water, it is sweet enough, otherwise not: add enough honey that the egg goes therein. –Ouverture de Cuisine. 1604
- 1 gallon of water
- 4 lb. honey (~5 cups)
- .2 oz. coriander
- .2 oz. juniper berries
- .2 oz. crushed cinnamon sticks
- ale yeast
Simmer the water, then add the honey. Stir until it’s combined, then add the spices, increase heat and boil for one hour, skimming as necessary. Allow to cool, then pour into a carboy. Pitch the yeast and let sit for two days. Rack and strain into a clean carboy. When done working, bottle.