Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Making Hippocras at Home | Medieval Spiced Wine

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Hi everyone and welcome to Tasting History. Today we're making hippocras,

it's a medieval spiced wine. You might know it as one of the drinks

that they're constantly imbibing on Game of Thrones.

It is one of the easiest recipes i've done yet, and

it is one of the hardest recipes i've done yet. Easy, because other than just

grinding up spices, and waiting a day there's not a lot to do.

Hardest because getting the spices... not simple especially

during quarantine. So today I'll teach you how to make your own hippocras at

home, and give you a few cheats just in case you don't feel like scouring the

globe for certain spices, because frankly unless you're studying to become

a sommelier, wine should not be a source of stress for anyone.

So let us make like Cersei Lannister and get ourselves a glass of hippocras,

this time on Tasting History.

Now there are dozens of recipes for this drink, but I am going to go to my old

standby The Forme of Cury, the 14th century

recipe book from England. It's one of, if not the first

recipe to use the term hippocras, and what's interesting is most of the

recipes in The Form of Cury are in Middle English,

but this one and only this one is in a weird bastardized 14th century French.

So i'm actually going to put the original French recipe

alongside the modern translation so you can see

where we get some of the words, there's I think you'll understand a lot

more than than you might think.

To Make Hippocras: three ounces of cinnamon,

and three ounces of ginger, spikenard of spain

the size of a denier (a small french silver coin),

galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom, a quarter ounce

one-tenth ounce grains of paradise, and powdered cinnamon,

etc. You could never get away with just saying etc at the end of a modern day

recipe, but whatever. Now it's interesting because

this recipe gives us very exact amounts for each of the

ingredients which is not common in a 14th century

recipe, but what it doesn't give us is any instruction on what to do with

these ingredients, and it's missing one rather key

ingredient: the wine. So to crack this nut I have

scoured several later recipes to find clues on exactly

the method uh to make the drink, and how much wine to use,

and what kind of wine to use. Also some of the later recipes

offer more easy to find spices so i'll mention those

as alternatives to things like spikenard, not easy to find.

So before we get started make sure to hit that Like button while you

contemplate how many times I had to re-record that last section,

because I kept saying hippogriff when I meant to say hippocras.

So first the wine. Good news you can pretty much use whatever you want,

because they mention everything red, white, sweet,

dry, didn't really matter so it is up to

you. Now as far as how much wine, that is a

little bit harder. It wasn't until 1660 that I found a recipe (I didn't find it

in 1660), a 1660 recipe from The Accomplished Cook by Robert mMay

where he specifies one gallon of wine for a recipe that has

three ounces of cinnamon which is the same amount of cinnamon that we're using

in our recipe so I figure that's that's going to be about right.

Now a gallon of wine back then was a very common way of bottling it so it

makes sense I'm not going to make a gallon so I will

adjust the amounts to make quite a bit less.

Now other than using three ounces of cinnamon Robert May's recipe is vastly

different from the one that we're using today from The Forme of Cury.

First it includes cream which is interesting in wine,

and second it has three pounds of sugar, three pounds of sugar. That's a lot of

sugar. Our recipe doesn't use sugar at all, most

recipes actually do include a bit of sugar,

but I want to stick to The Form of Cury. So as

much as I love sweet things I will not be adding sugar.

Now when it comes to the method they also run the gamut, some have you heating

the wine, some don't, some have very complex

methods of adding spices, and removing spices the next day, and adding other

spices using three different pots, and a lot, and then some of them are just

like throw the spices in wait a day and then strain it.

That's the one that we're going to use, because why not. So for this recipe you

will need two bottles, or 1500 milliliters of red,

or white wine, one ounce or 28 grams of cinnamon sticks,

one ounce or 28 grams of fresh ginger, a quarter teaspoon of spikenard.

Now I had never heard of spikenard, though I found out that it's also called

nard which was the oil that Mary Magdalene used to

clean Jesus's feet when they were at the house of Lazarus, so

kind of cool, but I didn't know what it smelled or tasted like,

and it's so interesting because really i've never smelled anything quite

like it. It's musky, and earthy yet extremely

sweet and clean at the same time. It almost reminds me

of the scent of the desert after it rains. If you've ever been

in the desert after it rains, I grew up in Arizona, so I know that smell well.

One teaspoon of galangal, one teaspoon of cloves.

They could have been closed like we used today, or they could have been gilly

flower clove. Unfortunately the same term was

used throughout history to mean two different things, so nobody really

knows. Everyone will debate, but we're going to

use cloves, regular old cloves. One teaspoon of long pepper, here's

another one that you might not know. It kind of looks like a stretched out

pine cone to me, and it tastes like pepper.

Like regular black pepper,m but sweeter and at the same time

quite a bit hotter, so very interesting worth finding if you can. One teaspoon of

nutmeg, one teaspoon of marjoram, one teaspoon of

cardamom, half a teaspoon of grains of paradise.

Now this is the one that took forever to get here. I guess you can sometimes find

it in some stores, but during quarantine I couldn't and I

had to order it from a farm in Ghana. It took four months to get here.

When I tasted it, and I and I just tasted one little little

kernel, or corn I guess, it had kind of a

sweet peppery flavor mixed with something a little bit

more aromatic than regular pepper, and then all of a sudden

a wave of heat that was like I had just eaten a tablespoon

of black pepper, it was very interesting. And a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

So like I said some of those spices are going to be a little hard to find, so

if you're in a hurry to get your hippocras on (sounds like hippo

croissant), uh weird um then go ahead and use some

more more nutmeg, black pepper, powdered ginger, and even rosemary because all of

those are mentioned in later recipes, and of course if you want to sweeten it

up you can use sugar which was considered a spice than.

So the first thing to do is pour your wine into a large container,

then break up your cinnamon sticks, and chop your fresh ginger.

Then grind up the rest of your spices, and they don't need to be ground up

super super fine so just do your best, and I apologize to marjoram which is

technically an herb, and not a spice but it's all a little a little weird.

Now while spices are not as expensive as they were in the 14th century they are

still kind of expensive, especially some of those harder to find ones.

So I wanted to thank several of my patrons the Marshals of the Spicery

for helping me afford such luxurious items

I doff my cap to you all, If I only had a cap,

if I only had a cap. ♪

So once you've ground your spices

start adding them directly into the wine and give everything a good mix,

and then we wait. About a day, even two. Every once in a while

you can go ahead and give them a give it another mix, but really just

leave it in the pitcher, and let the spices do their work,

and while we wait it is the perfect excuse to take a look

at why Europe fell in love with hippocras.

"He drynketh ypocras, claree, and vernage

of spices hoote t'encressen his corage." And essentially that means he drank

spiced wines to increase his desire, no wonder it stayed popular for so long.

One of the first recipes we have for spiced wine comes from the Apicius De Re

Coquinaria from the 4th century, and the very first

two recipes in the collection are for spiced wine surprise, and spiced

honey wine for travelers. By the early middle ages a drink called

piment crops up in several manuscripts from Catalan in

modern Spain, and in the 1180s Chrétien de Troyes

wrote an Arthurian legend about the quest for the holy grail

during which Sir Percival drinks a cup of piment after each meal.

For some reason the term piment falls out of use, and is replaced in the 14th

century by hippocras or ypocras. This is

probably due to the fact that the spices were drained out of a manicum

hippocraticum, or hippocratic sleeve. A popular tool of

your friendly neighborhood apothecary. It was a conical cloth bag devised by

the 5th century BC physician Hippocrates. Now right about now you're

probably asking why are people adding all these spices

to the wine? Why not just drink the wine, and there are three popular theories. For

the first we have to trot out those four old chestnuts: The Humors. Come on

out here you crazy guys! We have Blood, Yellow Bile, Black Bile, and

Phlegm. Often attributed to Hippocrates himself,

medieval medicine was all about controlling

your humors, and keeping them in balance to stay healthy, and I go into

more detail in another video on the Black Plague, and the four Humors which

I'll link in the description, but essentially one way to control your

Humors was through food, and each food was given different

degrees of hot, cold, wet, and dry and wine was no different. So

the theory was that if you say took a cold, wet wine,

and added hot dry spices in the correct amounts

then it would become the perfect medicinal beverage, and

was often served at the end of feasts to aid in digestion.

A second theory suggests that the spices were added there to kind of spruce up a

wine that was maybe subpar so if you had a bottle of Two

Buck Chuck that was about to go bad, and you threw in some cinnamon you're

good to go, but frankly if you could afford cinnamon in the

Middle Ages you could probably afford better wine,

so I don't know about that one. Then there's the third theory which is the

theory of why people do anything to their food, and that's because

it tastes good. You know pretty simple, and it must have tasted good because it

was all the rage throughout Europe in the Middle Ages,

but in the 1430s hippocras fell in with one

bad dude. He was the Baron Gilles de Rais, distinguished soldier and comrade in arms

of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War,

also arguably history's first recorded serial killer. And I'm not going to go

into details about his crimes, but in his

confession it is gruesome. Essentially he

plied hundreds of young children with hippocras, and then killed and

dismembered them. Pretty disturbing, and poor hippocras's

name got dragged through the mud along with him,

but just as people kept drinking Kool-aid after Jonestown, it

didn't really stop people from drinking hippocras for very long.

Hippocras stayed popular through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, all the way

up until the 18th century, and there was a a type of hippocras for

really everyone. You had these multi-spiced wines

for the very, very wealthy, and then really any that had sugar would have

been for someone with with quite a bit of cash, but then

you also had spiced wines for the poor, they were

sweetened with honey, and usually bits of fruit, and that might

sound familiar because we still drink wine that is sweetened

with fruit today, and it's called sangria which actually

has its own fascinating history which i'll have to cover in another

episode. But while hippocras lost favor in the 18th century, other spiced wines

emerged and took up the torch mostly in the winter months served warm.

In England mulled wine and wassail punch made with spiced cider were and still

are must-haves at Christmas parties. Every

weihnachtsmarkt in Germany serves glühwein in either a tankard, or these

cute little ceramic boots, and in nordic countries they have glögg

which is still made with some of the spices that were used in that 14th

century recipe from The Forme of Cury. Honestly

almost every European country, and many former European colonies

has some sort of spiced wine as part of their cuisine,

and i'd like to think that most people aren't drinking it to balance their

hippocratic humors, but because it tastes good. Now speaking

of Hippocrates let's see what we can use in lieu of

that hippocratic sleeve. So after a day or two your hippocras

should be ready to strain, and now if you want to emulate that

conical look of the manicum hippocraticum,

you can get either a jelly bag or one of these.

This is meant for making cold brew they come in all shapes, and sizes. This was

big enough for for two bottles for me, and i'll put

a link in the description to where you can get that but honestly you could

probably just use a regular old coffee filter. Also a lot of the recipes

have you using the dregs because again these spices are very expensive so

if you want you can go ahead and use those dregs to make other things like

sauces, or even soap! Hm, interesting. So now before I taste this I

will mention that this was served both warm and at room temperature,

so i'm going to use that as an excuse to actually have

three glasses. One warmed on the stove, one at room temperature, and then one

that i've chilled like sangria. So here we are are three glasses of

hippocras: one hot, one room temperature, and one cold. I'm

gonna start with the hot one, even though it's like 95 degrees out

because it's July and let's think christmas in


Oh my goodness, okay so if if what ails you is that you have some sinus

issues this will cure what ails you.

Oh my gosh i can feel my pupils dilating wow, okay.

Oh that is very Christmassy, it kind of reminds me of gluhwein from

from Germany if you've ever had that, it's wonderful though,

definitely hot. Now let's try the room temperature one,

smells completely different, much less spice much, much i mean it doesn't clear

your nostrils like the other one did maybe

they're already clear, I don't know.

Okay if you want something that will transport you back to

the 14th century in a huge castle, this is it.

What an interesting flavor this is. What's fantastic is

there is spice to it, in the back of my throat and it's just

getting more, and more it's I think it's those grains of paradise, or maybe the

long pepper. There is spice like heat, definite heat

to this to this drink,

but then it's sweet too because I ended up using a slightly sweeter red.

I don't think it needs sugar, I don't think it would be good with sugar.

I just love it as is. That is really cool, and just flavors,

flavors that i've never tried before. What i'm not getting is the the spikenard

I mean I kind of didn't figure that

I would, but that aromatic fragrance of the spikenard

I'm not i'm not getting that too much, though nothing overwhelms it

which is cool. And now the glass of cold sangria-like


Again, totally different.

The cinnamon pops out in this one, such different flavors, and

it's funny because the hot one really cleared your nasal passages.

The room temperature one had that scent,

but wasn't overwhelming. This one smells

very little, but the flavor

is really nice. This one actually reminds me more of Christmas flavors, the middle

one not at all, the warm one okay, but this

one it feels like all right let's sit down

by the fire, and and open some presents and

get drunk on hippocras. Now I have three glasses to finish,

and so i'm going to turn off the camera before I do that,

but I wanted to thank you for sticking with me and I will see you next time

on Tasting History.

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