It’s not all about the wurst (sausage) and beer in Germany. Each region has its own character, dialect and of course, special dishes. Here’s one facet of Frankfurt’s cuisine you won’t want to miss (and hardly could).
What is apple wine?
Much like the French cidre only less well-known, Frankfurt Apfelwein is fermented apple juice. While the French variation is often sweet to neutral, the German version is sour – sometimes surprisingly so to the unaccustomed palate – and Germans like it that way.
You can order yours diluted with soda water, but please don’t try to add anything else. It’s socially verboten, or at least very crass. It is served either in traditional glasses with a cut rhombus pattern called Gerippte (literally “ribbed”) or a ceramic vessel called a Bembel.
How is apple wine made?
Apfelwein has been made the same way for hundreds of years: by pressing apples to extract juice, then adding a yeast that causes the juice to ferment.
Apfelwein is traditionally known as a summer drink. This makes sense, since apples are harvested in autumn, and the juice takes several months to ferment to the proper alcoholic percentage of around 6%. But it also has to do with taste. Its spritzy, refreshing quality makes it a perfect warm-weather beverage.
Where to get apple wine
Two thirds of Germany’s apples come from Frankfurt’s surrounding region of Hessen, and Frankfurt has two major producers of Apfelwein, called Keltereien or “wine press houses”. One of them, Possmann, even plans to open an Apfelwein museum in 2016.
Frankfurt’s Apple Wine Festival takes place in July and August on central Roßmarkt square. There are plenty of small restaurants and taverns offering their own house brews, most notably in the historic district of Alt-Sachsenhausen.
An apple wine by any other name….
Germans love nicknames, and Apfelwein is no exception. Though in this case, local dialects come into play. In Frankfurt, you’ll hear it called both Äppelwoi and Ebbelwoi as well as Stöffche.
People from Rheinland-Pfalz, the area southwest of Frankfurt, call it Viez, which is derived from Latin. In Austria and Switzerland it is known as Apfelmost.