The spiced wine called Ypocras was used in cooking, or drunk on its own as a favorite remedy for illnesses caused by cold humors. The name harks back to the great Greek physician Hippocrates. This recipe for spiced red wine comes from Taillevent, who instructs that the wine be strained several times to ensure it is properly clarified. If you wish to grind your own spices, allow a quarter ounce or seven grams per tablespoon. Grains of paradise resemble flowery, mild black peppercorns and are available online. Ypocras is heady stuff, so you’ll need to consume just a little!

Ypocras (Spiced Red Wine)

  • Makes 3 cups (750 ml)
  • 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground mace
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground grains of paradise
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) fruity red wine such as Merlot
  • Cheesecloth

In a medium nonmetallic bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, mace, cloves and grains of paradise. Add the wine and stir well. Leave for 10 minutes, then stir again to dissolve the sugar fully. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.

Strain the wine mixture through a strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a bowl. A brown deposit will be left on the cheesecloth. Rinse it off and strain the wine at least once more through the cheesecloth to clarify it as well as possible. Store the wine in an airtight container (if you like, use the original bottle) at room temperature. It will keep for up to 1 month.