_ Some might have noticed that I failed to write anything (or even cut and paste) yesterday. I travelled to a friend’s birthday celebration. Fortunately, that friend owns one of Germany’s better wine estates and is a generous host.
The event started with a historical tour of the town. Despite being bitterly cold, it was interesting. I have been visiting this town for forty years, but knew little of the history. One could begin the tale when the region was covered by ocean, because their is a rich fossil record (even a famous UNESCO protected site, that spits up rare and unique look at the earth’s distant past). Our tour did not even trace the Roman roots of the village, when the first vines were planted to grow wine to pay troops (each soldier was paid 5 liters of wine per day, which was reasonable considering that he had walked all the way from Rome over the Alps and was stuck in the empire’s most distant outpost!). Anyways, we heard about the history of existing buildings and churches, which trace their origins to the 1400. My main conclusion is that residents of this area have suffered throughout history from various groups disagreeing and fighting one another, starting with the Romans killing “savages” eking out an existence in the wilds, to French invading from the west and Prussians from the east, to Catholics and Protestant squabbling over who could best exploit people (Martin Luther hammered his demands on a church door not far away), to Allied troops pushing the Nazis back towards Berlin into the maw of the Russian killing machine. Lately, it has been peaceful, with only the current government extracting taxes and European bureaucrats demanding reams of information from farmers/vintners.
To thaw out from the tour and to commence the evening’s alcohol consumption, we were offered Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) in the estates lavish tasting room. Dinner started Carpaccio of beet with goat cheese accompanied by red sparkling wine. The main course was goulash of wild boar and venison from the family hunting estate in eastern Germany. This was washed down with 2008 Grüner Silvaner (green Silvanner), followed by a tasting of 1959 Riesling Spätlese. Dessert was Rumtopf (fruit and berries marinated in rum and wine) and ice cream, accompanied by 1964 Beernenauslese. To the meal, we got to try a 1949 Riesling Spätlese from my friend’s parents’ historical collection of family wines. I learned that the Nazis used French prisoners of war to work the vineyards during the war, ensuring unbroken wine production. (I’m sure that much was enjoyed by American GI’s, when the occupied the area.) To follow another tradition, we were offered distilled spirits (pear, raspberry, plum) to help digestion, in case the previous ingestion of alcohol was not doing a proper job. Of course, there was plenty of wine left over in case anyone needed to keep sampling the wares.
As always, a good time was had by all and everyone surely looks forward to the next celebration of fine wine. That’s what friends are for...to have birthdays...
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.