State Archives in Opole Unveil Historic Recipes for Spirits

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Treat your taste buds to a romantic adventure with a unique collection of spirit recipes from an anonymous Nysa merchant from the 19th century.

The State Archives in Opole has recently released a publication called “nieWinny smak miłości do alkoholi” which includes delightful recipes and recipes that will take you back in time. Whether you’re a fan of traditional liqueurs or curious about something new, this book has something to offer. Get ready to explore a world of flavours and aromas that will make your mouth water!

The State Archives in Opole has published an illustrated book entitled. “NieWinny smak miłości do alkoholi” containing – as stated in the preface – extracts for palate-pleasing chamber and cellar supplies extracted from a book located in the collection of the State Archives in Opole. The manuscript itself, on which the book is based, is dated 1855. 

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In the introduction to the publication, the Opole archivists remind us that vines were cultivated on the territory of the present Opole Voivodeship as early as the 13th century. This fact is confirmed, for example, by the name of the sub-Polish town of Winów (now a district of Opole), appearing in documents as early as 1421. This does not change the fact that in Silesia greater importance was attached to brewing beer, and the problems of access to the frothy beverage in the Holy Land were to be reason enough for one of the Piasts to resign from participating in the Crusades.

As late as the 16th century, the Piast Jan II Dobry of Opole presented Jan of Mochów with a vineyard in Głogówek as a reward for his good service, while 15th-century yearbook records mention Silesia as a land where “in 1484 the vines grew so luxuriantly that a whole bucket of ripe grapes could be obtained for one hen’s egg”. Problems arose in the 16th century due to climate change, which brought significant cooling. This does not mean that wines were forgotten in Upper and Lower Silesia, as evidenced by a book belonging to a Nysa townsman who was a wine merchant in the mid-19th century. The book contained numerous recipes for seasoning wines with various additives intended to improve their taste or appearance.

“It was also about finding ways to fix wines that, for one reason or another, could not meet the requirements of customers. Some of these recipes are partly encrypted, so it must be assumed that they had a measurable value and this knowledge was shared very reluctantly, or even treated as a business secret,”

explains Małgorzata Blach-Margos, co-author of the study.

The album presents the original recipes together with their translation into Polish. Thanks to this, today’s readers can learn, for example, what to do to make “dull, heavy or cloudy wines nice, bright and clear”, “how to save wine that has become cloudy or thick and the colour is turning blue”, or “how to save wine that refuses to improve despite all efforts” with the help of burnt wormwood, lead oxide and broken alabaster.

The entire publication, containing photocopies of the original notes of the Nysa wine merchant and numerous illustrations, can be obtained from the State Archives in Opole.

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