An alcoholic beverage
believed to have already been drunk by the Romans
in ancient times
. It is simply made by fermenting apples
. Therefore it is a form of wine
, hence the name "Apfelwein" or "Apple Wine". It has a slightly sourish taste but is refreshing and often mixed with a good dash of sparkling or carbonated water
. It is drunk mainly during the summertime in Hessian beer gardens
) but is often enjoyed year 'round.
Where's it from?
The Apfelwein we know today has its roots in the city of Frankfurt, Germany and has been produced there since the sixteenth century. Today Frankfurt and the surrounding area are still the center of production and consumption of Apfelwein; "Äppelwoi" or "Äppler" as the hessian dialect dictates.
Sounds like a delightful beverage! Where can I get it?
Apfelwein can be purchased in stores or in a special "Kelterei" where it is exclusively produced. There are many of these Keltereien in and around Frankfurt and in the region of Hessen. You can find one in most towns. If you want the real thing, buy it from one of these places. Invite some friends over to drink it though, as you will be getting the Wein in at least a 5 liter canister (bit more than a Gallon). It will cost you a little less than a Euro per Liter. Don't forget to bring the canister back if you can, there's usually a substantial refund on it.
As of now I have no clue where to get Apfelwein except in Germany, where even there it isn't sold in all regions. You might want to ask some German friends of yours, travel to Hessen or even make the stuff yourself. If you decide to do the latter, tell me!
How should I drink it?
Apart from pouring it down your throat, proper Apfelwein enjoyment consists of drinking the stuff at 11-14 degrees centigrade or simply "cool". The drink should be served in a special glass called "Geripptes" which is a large glass which becomes wider near the top and has vertical rows of diamond shapes on the outside (just decoration, but it's TRADITION dammit! *wink*). For larger groups of people, the Apfelwein is traditionally served in a large jug called a "Bembel". These are typically grey earthenware and hold around 5 Liters. You can drink Apfelwein pure, but it is widely accepted to pour a good measure of sparkling water into the drink. This is a "Saures". Drinking a "Süsses", or Apfelwein with a lemonade or soda such as Fanta makes the drink much sweeter, but that's only for girls anyway. There also exists the blasphemious act of pouring Coke into Apfelwein, but luckily most who do this are shunned (such as teenagers).
You're making me thirsty...can I make it myself?
The fact that Apfelwein consists solely of fermented apple juice makes it relatively easy to "kelter" it yourself. You must start out with a quantity of apple juice, preferably pressed from fresh apples. I'm not sure if juice from the supermarket can be used, since I believe the juice is boiled first, but it may be worth a try. You also need fermenting apparatus such as fermenting canisters or tanks. Fill these with the pressed apple juice and leave about 10 to 15% of the space free. Make sure no air can reach the liquid, but the pressure caused by the fermentation process can escape. Store the apparatus in a cellar and keep the juice at an optimal 14 degrees centigrade. Fermentation will begin 1-3 days later and is characterized by a foamy substance that will begin to fill the container. After 2-3 weeks this will subside and you must fill the remaining space with apple juice. After that you must wait another 6-12 weeks at the end of which you may enjoy your Apfelwein. Prost!
Appendix A - Ordering an Apfelwein
<Waiter> Was kann ich ihnen bringen? (What can I bring you?)
<Tourist> Ich möchte einen sauren/süssen/puren Apfelwein, bitte. (I would like a sour/sweet/pure apple wine, please)
<Tourist> Ich nehme nen' grossen Sauren. (I'll have a large (.5 Liters) sour apple wine.)
<Tourist> Ich hätt gern nen' kleinen Äppler, pur. (I'd like a small apple wine, pure.)
<Waiter> Hier, bitte. (There you are.)
<Tourist> Danke. (Thank you.)
German speaking persons can check out http://www.apfelwein-pur.de