Riesling Glühwein

Christmas is rapidly approaching now and those of us living in Germany will no doubt have already had the pleasure of sampling the famous “Glühwein” at one of the multitude of Christmas Markets that start in late November and go on right up until Christmas Eve or even into the New Year.

Traditionally, Glühwein is made from red wine, but of course, Mosel wine is predominantly white. It would be a bit of an insult to the local wine producers not to attempt to make some using the local plonk, so I reproduce here a recipe I found on the German cooking website http://www.kochbar.de/. It is the best translation from German to English I could manage, but I think it is reasonably accurate.

Weißer Glühwein (Mulled White Wine)

Ingredients:

  • 600 ml dry white wine
  • 150 ml Vodka
  • One orange
  • Five cloves
  • Two cinnamon sticks
  • Half teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • Three tablespoons of honey
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Lemon slices, to serve.

Slice the orange and throw into a saucepan along with all the other ingredients. Cover and heat gently but do not boil for at least ten minutes (if you boil it you will evaporate off the alcohol and we don’t want that now do we?). Taste and add more honey if necessary. Serve hot in heat-resistant glasses garnished with a light sprinkling of cinnamon, one clove and a slice of lemon.

Please note this is just one variation on a theme – the aforementioned website has numerous other recipes for mulled white wine, so feel free to experiment to come up different spice and citrus combinations to make your own personalised Christmas drink!

Countdown Is Progressing

Well, the Christmas countdown has now officially started and that means that the Christmas markets are now underway across Germany.

So now is the time to start doing a bit of Christmas shopping, and while you are at it you may as well have a few glasses of the legendary Glühwein to keep you warm. And if you get a bit peckish, there are always seasonal treats available to accompany the plonk.

There are numerous markets across the region. In the larger towns and cities, they are generally open daily, but in the smaller towns and villages they may only operate for a few days. I myself am not so keen on the larger markets as they tend to be a bit “samey”, whilst the smaller ones  can have bags more Christmas spirit about them and I am not necessarily talking about the bottled kind.

To find a list of markets taking place in the area, click here. Given that the towns along the river are all quite small the events will be easy enough to find – just follow the crowd!

No Rest For The Wicked

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Tractors taking a well-earned break during the grape harvest in Zell an der Mosel. Tractors are some of the few items of machinery used during the harvest in the region, as the steepness of the vineyards make mechanisation very difficult and as such most things are done by hand as they have been since the Romans first introduced grapes to the region around 2,000 years ago.

The grape harvest falls within a very short window in the year, and getting it wrong could cause the wine to be inferior or even be a total failure. The experience and intuition of the winemaker is the key to deciding when to harvest, and his knowledge of the grapes, the weather, the soil and everything to do with successful wine making has been passed down through generations. In fact, wine making in the Mosel region is probably one of the few very crafts which has not changed significantly since ancient times.