You know how it goes, you start your day off by looking up something super benign and end up down a worm hole that leads you to an Ancient Roman spiced wine recipe.
This is how on a snow-stormy day in early January I found myself making Conditum Paradoxum. It was a common libation imbibed by Ancient Romans during the Saturnalia celebrations which occurred December 17–23. Whilst we cannot know for certain, the ingredients found in this wine cocktail do sound very similar to what we think of as mulled wine today. Although Saturnalia is behind us, there is still plenty of winter left and many days to drink this ancient version of vin chaud.
Luckily, or should I say Praise be to Bacchus my pantry is chalk full of ingredients that are not dissimilar to those you would find in a Roman pantry, and I’m willing to bet yours is the same.
I adapted the recipe below from the Roman cookery blog Pass the Garum. When it comes to mulled wine I tend to go big or go home, hence I’ve adjusted the quantities as well as omitted the saffron, mostly because I don’t like it. As with any mulled wine, the amount of spices you add is up to you. I prefer more peppercorns as I enjoy the heat it leaves on the tongue.
If we were in Ancient Rome this wine would have been very sweet like an ice wine. So, if honey is your thing. Go nuts.
Conditum Paradoxum (Roman Spiced Wine)
750 ml of white wine
1/2 cup Honey
1 tsp Fennel
1 Tsp Peppercorns (crushed)
6 Dates or a small handful of raisins
Add the honey , wine, and dates/raisins to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the spices, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 15–20 minutes, strain and serve.