Wine Not? Learning To Love Wine At A Vineyard In Germany
Over 2000 years ago, Romans settled along the banks of the Moselle River in Germany making the historic city of Trier, and her outlying countryside, one of their key outposts. The Romans brought with them a variety of differences from the natives, and as often happens when two cultures meet, today’s Moselle is a hybrid of their genetic and cultural offspring.
Arguably, one of the most significant results from Roman occupation was the planting of vineyards, and an introduction of viniculture, to the area. In other words—wine!
The Moselle region celebrates international renown for the wine it produces. The Riesling grape truly makes the taste buds sing its praises, as I discovered on a recent wine-tasting trip to the city of Mehring. Small in size, but mighty in fertile soil, Mehring produces some of the most delightful wine you can imagine. I ventured to Sebastiani’s Winery for a private tasting, along with some merry friends.
Alfons Sebastiani greeted us warmly when we arrived. He took our coats and led us to the dining room. There was a graceful sense of showmanship about him, and as a wine novice, I wondered if the night would stack up to the mentionable things I’d heard. To be honest, I’m not even a great fan of wine. Perhaps you’ve heard, I have a penchant for Guinness…
At any rate, Alfons moved with the grace of someone who is a master at what he does. Candles were lit, lighting was perfected, and our host became a skilled bard, regaling us with tales that only a winemaker born from generations of winemakers could tell.
Alfons told us about all of the normal things you’d expect to hear: soil, body, acidity, astringency, alcohol content, and so on. While by no means experts, we all left with the basic understanding of how grapes were turned into wine. We also learned the out-of-ordinary things you wouldn’t be able to uncover from merely buying a bottle of Riesling.
These included tidbits of how his family managed to keep their vineyards alive and well during various wars throughout the century. Or how they’ve created a grape juice named after their daughters, which, by the way, is the best thing you will probably ever taste. The Sebastianis also own four different “hills” and take enormous pride in the family business (art). I didn’t ask exactly how a person “owns a hill” but I thought it sounded pretty neat—romantic—something a city kid like me would never truly understand. Of course, he also told us how they lose more and more of the younger generations each year as descendants choose to pursue careers away from the soil.
The stories jumped from fascinating to funny to heartfelt. Somewhere in between, we enjoyed a home-cooked meal of stuffed pork and au gratin potatoes. We were temporarily transported to different worlds and the best word I can think of to describe it all is enchanting.
No matter what time of the night ended, it turned out to be too early. That’s simply a rule of life when you’re having fun, right? The final good news was that the Sebastiani Winery had accommodations on site for guests. No need to figure out who is driving home.
In the end I discovered that even a “beer guy” like me could learn to appreciate good wine.
Perhaps I’ll indulge in a glass right now…