Wine Tasting Club – Wincarnis

By / Wine + Drinks / September 13th, 2011 / 1

Don’t ever say that we here at the Tidings Wine Tasting Club don’t challenge you every once in a while. This month’s wine comes from England, and has been appreciated worldwide for 120 years. Anyone who’s heard of Wincarnis, let alone tried it, deserves a gold star. This is one of those love it or hate it things. It’s absolutely huge across much of the world, including Jamaica, Singapore and the US.

Wincarnis, taken from the Latin meaning “meat wine”… Wait, meat? That’s because it’s a good wine to pair with meat, right? No. At one time, it contained meat extract (a concentrated beef stock, actually). Kerry Allan of Ian MacLeod Distillers says that meat extract hasn’t been used in the production of Wincarnis supplied to Canada for many years. In any case, Wincarnis is a British tonic wine. A tonic is anything that’s good for what ails you. As to why meat extract was even included in the list of ingredients in the first place probably has something to do with the fact that it’s food that helps one maintain good health. Allan agrees: “The original Wincarnis recipe is very old, so we don’t know exactly why meat extract was used. However we believe it was to provide medicinal properties due to high iron content.” The combination of ingredients in the wine was meant to heal and strengthen. It was consumed by anyone suffering any kind of malady. It was even enjoyed by new mothers as a way to regain their energy and lose weight! Nowadays, it’s a popular aperitif or digestif enjoyed simply for its flavour. It tastes like sweet sherry.

Once called Liebig’s Extract of Meat and Malt Wine, Wincarnis is made by Broadland Wineries of Norfolk, England and distributed by Ian MacLeod Distillers. It’s a fortified wine made from a secret recipe. But, MacLeod’s website sheds some light on the ingredients: “Wincarnis Tonic Wine is a carefully formulated blend of enriched wine and malt extract with a unique infusion of selected therapeutic herbs and spices including gentian root, mugwort, angelica root, balm mint, fennel seed, coriander seed, peppermint leaves, cardamom seeds and cassia bark.”

Retailing for $10.65, it’s worth giving it a try. Drink it straight, over ice or add a bit to gin to make a Gin and Win cocktail.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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