Germany’s wine region
09.23.2012 - 09.27.2012 70 °F
We were surprised to learn that Germany had a wine region that can be compared to that of Napa Valley. In fact, the town of Mainz is listed as one of the nine “great wine capitals” of the world! We started our journey up river in the town of Cologne, famous for its large “Dom” cathedral. We were told by the locals that this building requires so much cleaning that once is finally cleaned, the cleaning process starts all over (sounds like the Golden Gate Bridge!).
We headed down river via train and boats towards Mainz. We went to Oberweissen and then to the small town of Bacharach where we hiked up the top of a hill to a castle called Burg Stahleck that had been converted into a hostel. While walking through the town we stopped at one of the wine shops and sampled a young wine straight out of the tap. It was an early season harvest that is still fermenting called Federweiβer and it was sweet with a yeasty bubbly essence.
Our next port of call was the town of Bingen, where we found a great walk through the vineyards with a view of the famous Mäuseturm on the water just behind the Basilika.
After we reached Mainz we met up with Tom and Leah, where we learned that it is typical to have the Federweiβer with onion cake. Apparently the sweet wine compliments the stringent, sour taste of the onions, and all over the town we saw little kiosks where people stop in for a glass of fresh Federweiβer and onion cake. The typical German breakfasts that we were served included lots of strange meats (think liverwurst) and cheeses; it is very different from the typically sweet breakfasts that we have in the States.
Excited to be in one of the top wine capitals of the world, we were ready to go wine tasting! Unfortunately it was a huge shock to find out that “wine tasting” as we know it does not exist in the city or in the surrounding wineries. The standard thing to do here is to call a winery and set up an appointment or go there for dinner and order a bottle. So instead we opted for the second famous thing to do in the area… skinny dipping! Across the Rhine River from Mainz, is the city of Weisbaden, famous for its Kaiser-Friedrich Therme (German spa). We decided to pay a visit for Kevin to experience his first spa, and to have a little relaxation. Spas are a bit different in Germany in that they are completely naked, with mixed genders. Although a little intimidating, we had a wonderful hour of pampering in saunas, steam rooms, heated rooms, cold pools, warm rooms, and of course, an ice dunk.