After Hours: Visit Würzburg and this time try ‘der Wein’
August 24, 2006
WüRZBURG, Germany — Just because the shoppette on your Franconia base sells German wine doesn’t mean you should buy it there. You’re in one of the great wine growing regions of Europe.
Buying “der Wein” from AAFES is like eating Tex-Mex in Germany. Well, maybe you do that, too. Point is, get out there with your meek command of German, your obvious Americaness and just buy your grape nectar on the economy. You might even learn something.
The best place to start by far would be the Bürgerspital in downtown Würzburg, a city surrounded by hills of wine vineyards.
Housed in a former nursing home, the best German wine can be found in this little subterranean locale, which features a cozy store and even a little bar with some vittles.
The Bürgerspital has a vineyard area of about 300 acres situated on the hills around the Main River, and has been in operation since the 1300s. They’ve been at their downtown location for between 100 and 200 years, said Wiefried Langmann, a wine expert who works the shop and obviously loves his trade.
Much of the white wine, which Langmann said constitutes 80 percent of their supply, are dry Rieslings that are sold in short round bottles known as “Bocksbeutel.”
The bottle’s origin comes from a hip flask that Romans once carried wine in, Langmann said.
The wine was originally slated just for the nursing home residents, and they were allotted wine, which was mixed with water if they acted up.
In addition to great wines, the Bürgerspital also sells mustard made with wine, as well as awesome grape oil that is ultra- healthy and great on salad. There are also tons of quirky wine novelty gifts that you can send back to your slack-jawed brood in the States.
So stay away from shoppette wine, and get lost in the flowing ambrosial liquid of the Bürgerspital. Even German author Kurt Tucholsky regretted drinking too much of the Bürgerspital’s wine in 1927. Don’t worry, I don’t know who he is either.
“We should not have drunk so much stein wine,” the author said, according to a Bürgerspital brochure. “Yet that is hard; there was never anything like this before, with such clarity, of such clear strength, of focused sun and sun-drenched soil. And that was merely the wine on draught, in glasses — how everything changes when the flattened bottles of the Bocksbeutel are placed on the table!”
As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.
Location: Downtown Würzburg, on the corner of Theaterstrasse and Semmelstrasse.
Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Prices: You can get mini bottles for about 4 euros. A normal Bocksbeutel bottle will run anywhere from eight to 20 euros. Glasses of wine are a couple euros.