What is navegado?
Navegado, navega’o or vino navegado is an alcoholic drink from southern Chile, specifically from the city of Concepción.
Navegado means “sailed” because of the presence of slices of oranges floating in the glass as would a boat on the seas. Navegado is a traditional holiday season drink, which is also enjoyed throughout the winter period.
How to make navegado
Navegado is traditionally prepared from Chilean wine, usually Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that gives ample and generous wines with a dominant of blackcurrant. You can also use Carménère, the emblematic Chilean grape that is close to Merlot. Pinot Noir is also a good wine for navegado.
To prepare navegado, the wine is mixed with sugar, oranges, cloves and cinnamon sticks. This mixture is heated on low heat until it boils, the wine is then flamed to remove the alcohol. Flaming the alcohol also helps to eliminate the bitterness contained in it. It is then enjoyed hot with a few slices of fresh oranges.
What is the origin of navegado?
Navegado is a drink that is particularly consumed during the winter. It was very popular in the 1960s. This drink remains associated with the counter-culture and the protests in the collective imagination. Chilean youth used to meet to debate, discuss and lead protests. During these evenings, empanadas and navegado were widely consumed. Navegado is often served at traditional festivals or during carnivals and costume parties.
The origins of navegado are diverse. It is claimed that a Chilean boat chartered to Europe with a cargo of wine was denied entry by the Europeans and returned to the country with its cargo. The wine was not very good after many months at sea, therefore it was then garnished with orange, sugar and spices to make it more pleasant to tasting. The success was immediate.
It could also be simply the legacy of mulled wine recipes from Europe. The first mention of spiced wine is quoted in the Conditum Paradoxum in 20 AD. Apicius also mentions spiced wine in De Re Coquinaria. At the time, the wine was boiled with honey and spices. In the twelfth century, mulled wine was very popular in the Catalan part of Spain and in Occitania region of France.
The wine of Ipocras or Ypocras in reference to Hippocrates became popular very quickly throughout Christian Europe and was even consumed as a remedy. It is only at the end of the 19th century that mulled wine will be associated with the Christmas holiday, at which time street vendors started selling them everywhere, differentiating themselves by the creation of playful labels stuck on bags containing wines and spices and with which families could prepare their own mulled wine at home.
Although the alcohol is partly evaporated and flambéed after cooking, you should drink navegado with moderation. People say that it make your spirit “navigate” when you drink a little too much.
What are the variants of navegado?
Navegado is very similar to sangria which is rather consumed in the summer as it is a refreshing drink. Conversely, navegado is comforting and warm you up in the winter.
Mulled wine is very popular in Europe. It is found in Germany under the name of Glühwein, in the Nordic countries under the name of Gløgg. Eastern European countries call it forralt bor, the Romanians vin fiert. As for the Italians, they call it vin brulé (burnt wine) and the French call it vin chaud (hot wine).
March 3rd is the official world day of mulled wine, the opportunity to enjoy this navegado!
- 4 cups red wine
- 2 oranges , thinly sliced with the peel
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 cloves
- 2 sticks cinnamon
Pour the wine into a saucepan. Add the oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves and sugar. Mix well.
Heat over low heat, stirring constantly to mix the sugar well so that the ingredients release their aroma.
When boiling starts, flame the content of the pan with a torch or a large match.
Serve hot with one or two slices of orange in each glass.