Honey wine. The name alone does it for me. (But then again, I have a soft corner for the sweeter end of the wine scale, so that's hardly surprising.)
I got my first taste of honey wine - or mead - more than four years ago in the little Russian town of Suzdal, a few hours out of Moscow.
Suzdal did mead-tasting in style! It had an entire hall bang in the centre of town dedicated to it - complete with long log wood tables, stained glass windows and servers dressed in suitably serving-wench-like attire. All it needed to complete the mead-tasting-tableau in my mind were a few Vikings slapping down mugs of the stuff and platters piled high with chicken drumsticks stripped clean.
Ok... I'll admit... my overactive imagination may be running a little away with itself :)
Still, the mead tasting hall left an impression on my mind... and a lingering taste for the stuff in my mouth.
So when I found a stall selling mead at the very festive Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park in London a couple of weeks ago, I was first in line!
The stuff on sale was mulled mead. All the better in my opinion... nothing quite like a hot, sweet, spicy alcoholic drink to take the edge of a chilly winter's evening :)
I was all ready to part with my pounds having already downed a little taster cup when the server placed another cup in front of me containing - the rather intriguing sounding - Viking Blood.
Viking Blood is mulled mead (hence the Viking connection) tinged with cherry (hence the red = blood connection) and I'm pretty sure it's inventive name accounts for a good chunk of people having a go at trying it.
But even without the creative marketing, I think Viking Blood would be a winner.
Mead on its own can have a bit of a cloyingly sweet aftertaste. I remember the mead-tasting hall in Suzdal serving up its honey wine laced with a number of different ingredients including pepper and juniper berries, and the flavoured mead tasted a lot nicer than the plain variety.
The spices and tartness of the cherry brings the same advantages to the Viking Blood. I could easily have gotten through a few more cups of it... I may have to make like a vampire and hunt down a Viking or two this winter to get my fill :)
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