Humagne Blanc, a potion for childbirth
Humagne Blanc is one of the earliest grape varieties found in manuscripts in Valais. Its name appears in the Registre d’Anniviers in the 14th century (1313). Until the middle of the 20th century, Humagne Blanc played a very important role in the care of women in childbirth. It had a reputation for containing three times more iron than other grapes; it was also considered a wine for special occasions. It is appreciated for its excellent quality and its ability to age well.
Childbirth wine is given in different forms. It is often taken as a warm wine with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, honey) and aromatic herbs (hyssop, mugwort), or as a panade (a soup with toast). It is reputed to help calm pain, strengthen the body, clean the uterus and rebuild blood. The woman giving birth may drink up to one litre a day.
Recent chemical analyses have shown that this very old specialty does not in fact contain more iron than other grapes. But the custom of offering a bottle of Humagne Blanc to young parents continues as a Valais tradition today.
Source: Histoire de la Vigne et du Vin en Valais, «La coupe et le vin de l’accouchée», Samuel Pont, ethnologist; «Premières mentions de cépages dans le Registre d’Anniviers», José Vouillamoz, ampelographer.