A meandering about wine and Suleiman the Magnificent


There is a story about Suleiman the Magnificent and red wine that goes like this….

During the 1550s, Suleiman the Magnificent was preparing for the siege of the Eger Castle in the Beech Mountains of northern Hungary. The castle was defended by some 2000 soldiers and civilians led by a Captain Istvan Dobó, albeit these defenders were vastly outnumbered by the Turks under Suleiman. Several weeks of sustained attack against the walls were withheld, but in order to sustain moral and give strength, Dobó authorised rations of red wine to be given to his defenders.

The story goes that the red wine streamed down the beards and armour of the thirsty defenders, creating the impression amongst the Turks that the Hungarians were drinking bull’s blood to give them superhuman strength. In fear, the Turks withdrew from the castle.

It wasn’t until the mid 1770’s that the Eger winegrowers commercialised their red wine legend into bottles of the now famous Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood of Eger) which has subsequently become one of Hungary’s most important wine exports.



(Adapted from Richard Vine’s – The Curious World of Wine.)


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