When September comes, everybody starts talking about Oktoberfest – as if all Germany has to offer is Bockwurst and Beer and corresponding genders running around in Lederhosen and Dirndls. Do not be deceived. Beer made Germany famous but wine is excellent here and part of a wonderful tradition. Come October, it’s high season for Federweißer, the young wine of the first pressing, and Zwiebelkuchen, a rich onion pie to accompany it. And what’s cool is you can eat it in someone’s living room.
In NRW, a great place to go is the “Rotweinwanderweg” in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. There are set hiking paths twisting up the mountain and it is so hard to resist plucking a grape as you pass bunches and bunches of grapes along the way, wondering how one would taste. What’s one grape, you figure? Just when you think you might sneak one, there’s a guy harvesting his grapes and you remember that this is strictly verboten, don’t steal this farmer’s grapes. Slowly, as you wind to the top, you forget about the grapes and take in the magnificent views. This is Germany at it’s best, the quaint, tidy villages with church steeples dotting the landscape. Picture perfect. Bring your camera.
After a hike like that, everyone appreciates a reward and this is where the Federweißer and Zwiebelkuchen fill the bill. At this time of year, and only this time of year, small scale farmers and vintners open up their sitting rooms to the public, serving onion pie and young wine. There are so many of these mom and pop places that you don’t have to look far to see someone serving this traditional fare. When my brothers were here visiting, we found a little place that was like a secret garden, vines hanging everywhere and so cosy. We sampled both the red and white Federweißer, some of us preferring the richer tasting young red wine. It doesn’t have a strong alcohol taste, but is deliciously fresh and fruity. Everyone seems to have their own version of the onion pie, I love them all.
If you have vineyards in a nearby area where you live, I would highly recommend a hike and some indulgence in Zwiebelkuchen and Federweißer. If not, maybe you want to get on a train to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. It’s an adorable area with charming old German architecture, and the vineyards are great for a hike, and many doors open for the tasty traditions!