› The Legend of Bull`s Blood

The Legend of Egri Bikavér

Bull`s Blood - What`s in a name?                                    

So many legends exist about the origin of the name Egri Bikavér, you could write a book on them.

Some ever-so unromantic commentators say it is the work of a marketing department and they may be right, but as a lover of stories I have to disagree.

Below you can find two of the most common stories surrounding the origins of the name and I leave it up to you to choose which is the most satisfying.

Bulls`s Blood

 Wine label designers enjoy working on Bull`s Blood projects

The Mighty Castle Guards

Most of the stories about the name `Bull`s Blood` use the 1552 siege as their starting point. The most popular of these goes as follows......

In early autumn 1552 when the siege had been going on for some days, the soldiers, exhausted from the continuous, energy-sapping fight, begged their superiors for something to quench their thirst.

Castle captain István Dobó opened the cellars, and generously served wine to his soldiers.  In their eagerness to drink, the ruby red wine streamed down their faces all over their beards, moustaches and armour.

The Turkish, who were attacking the castle, saw the dark, red liquid on the faces and clothes of the Hungarians and, assuming it was bull’s blood, attributed the defenders` great strength to it.

The Story of Ahmed Pasha and the Serving Maid

Another story is also set against the backdrop of the siege of 1552. It goes something like this....

Ahmed Pasha, leader of one of the two Turkish armies besieging the castle, took a fancy to one of the maids who was serving at a local inn.

The inn-keeper and the staff had not had enough time to flee before the attacking army arrived, so they stayed, resigned to their fate; however, to their surprise, the Turkish did not kill them.

On the contrary, the pasha employed the inn-keeper’s wife as a cook. It was she who had this maid as an assistant.

Once the pasha had laid eyes on her, he decided to take the maid as one of his concubines. The girl did not take this as a compliment, instead she was cared and embarrassed, and so begged the inn-keeper’s wife to save her. She promised the maid to do everything she could in order to prevent the pasha from ravishing her.

egri bikaver

There was a big dinner at the inn on the night before the siege, and the inn-keeper’s wife prepared a delicious thick red sauce to accompany the copious amount of meat on offer.

The sauce was so tasty, that the pasha could not stop eating, in fact he so loved it that  he started drinking it from a cup. The alcohol made him disoriented, so he lay down to sleep.

By the next morning, the maid had escaped from the tent and was nowhere to be seen. Ahmed Pasha was furious, and accused the cook of adding some secret substance to the sauce, something that had caused him to fall unconscious.

The cook defended herself by stating that the only extra ingredient she had put in the food was bull’s blood, which was commonly consumed in Hungary.

This is how the famous red wine of Eger became “Bikavér” (Bull’s Blood).

Whether Ahmed Pasha believed the cook or not has long been forgotten.

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