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The legend of the Bull's blood

According to the local traditions the name Egri Bikavér (Bull's Blood of Eger) goes backto the times of the siege of Eger in 1552 and the Turkish occupation.

It is said that István Dobó, captain of the castle had red wine brought from the cellars of the castle to encourage the soldiers downhearted by the fights. The soldiers regained their power and continued the fight with new enthusiasm. The women took the wine to the soldiers fighting on the walls, but the Turks having seen only the beneficial effects of the wine and the red liquid slubbering on their beard got really scared. The news soon got spread in the Turkish army that the soldiers in Eger drank blood, namely the blood of the bull. So the Turks did not dare to fight the defenders having gained the power of the bull from its blood.

However, the legend is not true. No red grapes were grown in Hungary until the Turkish occupation, the craft of how to make red wine was brought to the country by Serbians fleeing from the conquests of the Ottoman Empire.

The name, Bikavér, can be connected to János Garay, poet of the character of Háry János. The first written reference to it can be found in his poem titled Drinking-song from Szegzárd, in 1846.

"Pour it in your glass and you will see a miracle! / Its colour is like bull's blood, / Yet the pearl that shines from it / is like snow, white. / And the vine which produced it / is green like a meadow. /Where else can you find a nicer / tricolor of our nice homeland?"
 

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