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Food, Prague, Wine

Savouring the flavours of Prague – mulled wine in the winter

Visiting a new country, I love to experience the culture and traditions of the people who live there – when mulled wine showed up everywhere, who was I to argue!  Time for savouring the flavours of Prague!

Warm thoughts and Christmas cheer were as free flowing as the svařák, otherwise known as mulled wine.  It is a popular drink throughout Europe, especially in the colder countries.  Mulled wine is simply wine that has been heated and spiced.  During the times of the Roman Empire, these drinks were considered tonics – a healthy drink.  All these years later, and I would have to say, the people of Prague are not disagreeing – at least not by judging the number of stands selling svařák on the streets, whether in a restaurant, on a cart on the street, or literally out of a hole in the wall!

Boiling the wine does burn off the alcohol but the flavour is all there!   The addition of spices and orange slices and svařák became synonymous with Christmas and the streets of Prague. Cost of the wine was higher in and around the Christmas Markets (50 CZK or approx $2.50 Canadian), as you wandered further afield, the price tended to drop – even in some restaurants off the beaten track, the cost dropped to as little as 40 CZK!

Determined to keep the festive flavours alive back at home, a google search on mulled wine recipes yielded over 2 Million hits!  Recommendations for making svařák include using a simple, inexpensive wine, and while either red or white wine can be used, the most common is red.  Watch that you don’t boil the wine – it may separate and not taste very good.  (I even found a crock pot recipe!!!  That is one way to make your mulled wine – low and slow!!!)  Making mulled wine takes time as your flavours need to permeate and infuse the wine.  While not necessary, some add a neutral alcohol – vodka will do the trick!  If you prefer to add more sweet flavour – add rum.  To make it truly Czech, Becherovka could be used as well.

Recipe for a basic svařák:

  • 1 liter red or white wine
  • 80 grams sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • Half a lemon

Heat all ingredients until hot, do not boil. Slice the lemon into the pot after, and serve.

For a fruity version:

  • Half a bottle red wine
  • Half a box grape juice
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sugar
  • ½ grated orange rind

Heat all ingredients, and let cool. Add sugar to taste, and juice from the orange as well, if desired. Reheat and serve.

Other cooking tips: use a stainless steel pot. If you have leftovers first strain out any fruits you may have added and then keep in the fridge to be reheated later. It should last a couple of days. Play with various recipes – sweet and spicy is a personal choice – who am I to stop the testing and experimentation process! Taste and adjust as needed.

Admiral Edward Russel’s Recipe – serves 6000!

Svařák – not only is it festive and warm but the house fills with a lovely Christmas smell. The Admiral made this version for a small gathering he hosted in Alicante, Spain in 1694 for 6000 guests. Using 600 bottles of rum, 600 bottles of brandy, 1200 bottles of malaga and several tons of boiling water; he then spiced his brew with 200 ground nutmegs, 600 pounds of sugar and the juice of 2600 lemons. His punch bowl? A marble fountain.

Savour the flavour – bottoms up!

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


21 thoughts on “Savouring the flavours of Prague – mulled wine in the winter

  1. The guy in the first image looks like Bobby Flay 🙂

    Posted by 2 Rivers Photos | January 11, 2012, 1:08 pm
  2. I love exploring the food and drink and the culture around it in my travels. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by cravesadventure | January 11, 2012, 1:32 pm
  3. Thanks for sharing the recipes. I’ll have to give them a try.

    Posted by maryduranteyoutt | January 11, 2012, 7:36 pm
  4. The Admiral certainly had an admirable concept of hospitality!! I’ll settle for a slightly smaller batch myself. 🙂 Mulled wine *doesn’t*, I think, get heated enough to be truly alcohol-free (the version I had the other night was pretty potent, still), but then it’s the alcohol *along* with the spices and the heated temperature that makes it such a welcome and warming winter drink! So lovely.

    And you made me want to run back to Prague at top speed! I’ve only been there in summertime so far, but what a gorgeous, delicious city!! Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Posted by kathryningrid | January 11, 2012, 11:10 pm
  5. Nice post Anita!

    Posted by Steve | January 12, 2012, 12:10 am
  6. I have never heard of this but I have to admit I am intrigued. As a fellow wino this is something I will need to try. Thanks for sharing and today I learned something new!

    Posted by f-stop mama | January 13, 2012, 7:29 pm
  7. A big brazilian television network has exhibited a series of TV Reports about Prague. I must confess that I’m becoming even more interested about the city and probably I’ll visit it this year.

    Posted by leoseabra | January 18, 2012, 11:44 am
  8. Hot wine brings back some lovely memories of skiing down a slope and half way through people serving it (in small portions of course :). Needless to say it was the best way to warm up and enjoy the yummy taste.

    Posted by merili | January 18, 2012, 6:10 pm
  9. I really wish I could cook!

    Posted by The Hook | January 25, 2012, 1:51 pm
  10. I am adding Prague to my list of places to go!!!

    Posted by vwatson213 | January 27, 2012, 9:48 am
  11. I am hoping to get to Prague this year

    Posted by sybaritica | May 27, 2012, 9:57 am
    • I found Prague to be such an amazing place to go. The food was fabulous, loved walking all around the old city – so much history – really an amazing place to visit! Would love to go in summer or fall – I am sure the outside patios are amazing! Checked out your blog – as a foodie – I highly recommend checking out the restaurant hOST – up in the Prague Castle area. Amazing food and stunning views – well worth the trip!

      Posted by Anita Mac | May 28, 2012, 8:38 am
  12. i wish i could go and visit the place of prague…i haven’t gone there…soon if i have enough budget…maybe i can go there…hehehe

    Posted by marymae | October 4, 2012, 9:43 pm


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