There are a lot of legends about wine. Of the more strange and unusual is the parallel with bull’s blood.
Bull’s blood also known locally as “Egri Bikavér” is a potent, dry red wine that is from the Eger wine region in northern Hungary. It is reputed to have earned its name from the 16th-century invasion by Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent.
During the invasion, Suleiman the Magnificent and his army of Turks attempted to siege of the Castle of Eger. The defending Hungarians, led by Captain István Dobó , were largely outnumbered by the evaders and the situation appeared dim. To build their strength the soldiers drank the wines from the cellars, spilling the red wine over their beards and armor turning it into the color of blood. As they continued their valiant fight, word spread among the Turks that the Hungarians were drinking the blood of bulls to make them strong. Eventually, the Turks gave up, and the victory at Eger was credited with dramatically reducing the threat of Ottoman expansion into northern and western Europe.
Though it’s likelier that the name Bull’s Blood didn’t begin to be used until much later or until it was coined by poet János Garay in the mid-1800s, the legend emphasizes the enduring tradition of Egri Bikavér and its importance to the region. Today, Egri Bikavér is still produced and is very popular especially to those who seek it for the mystique of magical power as it suggests.
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Suzanne Urpecz, creator and editor of The Hungarian Girl. Click on my About page for more info.