Have you ever heard of mulled wine? This traditional holiday drink was started by the Romans in the 2nd century and carries on today in many countries. During my travels, I learned Iceland bars & restaurants serve this hot beverage during the holidays and it is so yummy! While I was visiting Reykjavik I found an adorable little hole in the wall bar downtown and started chatting with the other patrons. (bonus video at the end- explore the inside of this little pub downtown!) After a few beers, I was offered a mulled wine by a couple of new friends and I decided to take a chance on something I had never tried before. I don’t regret this decision. As soon as the flavorful hot beverage hit my tongue I knew I had found a new holiday tradition to bring home. Mulled wine is usually made with a cheaper red blend wine then heated with spices like clove, cinnamon and star anise. Mine was served with almonds and raisins in the bottom of the glass and garnished with cinnamon sticks and an orange slice. While I was sipping on my mulled wine a parade drove down the small street outside with coca cola trucks and Icelanders walking in sync with the fun holiday music! The Christmas spirit was palatable that evening.
Earlier that week I tried the countries traditional Icelandic spirit called Brennivin. There are two different Brennivin flavors, one being the original spirit and another holiday edition that is released two months out of the year during Thanksgiving and Christmas that has been aged in sherry and bourbon caskets- adding some rich holiday flavors to a traditional spirit. Icelanders have a nickname for this drink, they call it “The Black Death.” When in Iceland a right of passage is the tasting ritual of fermented shark followed by a shot of black death. Icelanders used to survive of fermented shark, the weather and landscape are extremely harsh and fishermen had to preserve their catches to make the food last through the winter. Families survived by fermenting the sharks’ meat. Sometimes the meat would last for years. Although most modern Icelanders do not eat fermented shark it is still a wonderful tradition that is honored in many restaurants all over the island. Check me out tasting fermented shark & a black death shot!
Until next time!
Bonus Video! This was the inside of the pub serving mulled wine this season!