Wilkommen in Deutschland
Nothing says, “Willkommen in Deutschland,” quite like an 11 a.m. wine tasting on the scenic banks of the Mosel–cue wild swans, children playing…and Oh yeah, the castles that inspired the Disney Princess movies.
This is exactly what my traveling companion, Emily, and I did upon our arrival in Germany last Friday, heading straight for the Cochem region of the Mosel, famous for its scenic, vineyard-covered hills, castles, and Rieslings. Swept instantly into the arms of our tour guides, my Uncle Bill and Ant Jan, we began our fairy-tale tour (…and thanks in part to the wine, we were all sleeping beauties afterward).
Here, Rieslings account for over 50% of the region’s grape yields, and the best ones are planted on the steep hills surrounding the Mosel. Our first stop was a tiny town in the midst of these hills, where a charming old woman led us through a weinprobe (tasting) of dry, half-sweet, and sweet rieslings.
All of them had flowery bouquets, with fruity notes, and were delicious, but my favorites were in the super-sweet variety. They had heavy, fruity aromas and tasted like honey, a great accompaniment for cheescake or a fruit/nut dessert. (Although I’d swap dessert for more of this alcoholic honey any day.)
Our second stop was a village called Zell, a name that’s easier to find in the US since wines from Zell are exported almost everywhere. Also famous for light, refresing Rieslings, the black cat label is what stands out. Legend has it, a black cat originally ferociously protected Zell wine stored next to other varieties, leading locals to believe it was special. Finally, some well-deserved redemption for that poor mammal…
Our wine tasting party on the Mosel
The Mosel Uncorked:
Fun facts: The castles here inspired animators of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.
Romans are credited for bringing the wine trade here, and many of their forts are still standing.
Best time to visit: April through October. Tons of wine festivals, fireworks, and great weather.
Be sure to try: Spargles (white asparagus), often made into a super-buttery soup.
Schnitzel–Nothing like breaded, fried pork chops…yum
Fresh pretzel bread….ie the result of baguettes mating with giant soft-pretzels
Watch out for: Serious weight gain.