Feature photo: Weinberg in Stahlbühl 2017
As a resident of Heilbronn, I grew up in a wine town — some say in one of the largest wine-growing communities in Württemberg, which for a West Franconian community should be a distinction — and as a schoolboy I was able to take part in one or the other vintage. What I remember better, however, were the spontaneous actions to set up ovens in the vineyards during the night, which I thought was so weird even then that I liked it again.
Since it was still common back then to buy wine by the case and store it in the cellar, I bought my first wine in 1979, only to pour it down the drain years later. The idea of drinking this wine back then didn't even occur to me. This was, quite subconsciously, probably the reason why I started later whiskey and cognac to collect.
And when I came back to Heilbronn in the 1980s and went out in the evening, it was common, at least among the younger Wengerterns, to drink the local wine with cola or even schnapps. In the Bavarian pubs, as far as I can remember, this was called deer or ox blood, and in our country it was Korea.
At the end of the 1980s I found comrades in northern Germany of all places who not only lugged the Heilbronner wine home by the case, but also offered it in our casinos. That's when I learned to love Kerner because, unlike Riesling, it didn't put too much strain on the stomach. And of course the Lemberger, which, interestingly for me, was able to round off the evening without the addition of further alcohol.
The older and, above all, hard-drinking comrades preferred "the Göhring" from Heilbronn — in retrospect, I hope because of the taste and not because of the name — and when they found out that this was my neighbor and that I went to school through his fumes of sulphur, there was no stopping me from becoming a casino officer on a voluntary basis.
A few years later, when I was orienting myself professionally towards France, I got to know wine as a luxury food. But that also meant that, at least in the first year, I had a list after every lunch and had to put my productive working hours in the late afternoon.
Since that time, French wine has grown on me, and since every French regiment has good connections with a winery or champagne house, we could afford the indulgence.
In these 10 years or so, one or the other crate of Heilbronner wine made its way to France, whereby I was able to establish that it was the better Lemberger that my comrades drank, and not just out of politeness. I was also able to have this experience over a good 30 years during our family celebrations on the Gaffenberg, whereby there was never a Lemberger left, but other wines from local production were welcome.
Since I also stayed in the USA for a few weeks once a year in the 1990s and XNUMXs, I got to know and love Californian wine there. My aunt in particular, who lives there, repeatedly drew our attention to the best wines in California, which are in mine eyes can keep up well with the Bordeaux wines.
My years of service then ensured that I got to know and appreciate Spanish wine, as my Spanish comrades simply did not want to accept my affinity for French wines. However, these years also led to the fact that we all became aware of South African wine and also learned to appreciate it, probably because the military transport routes together with the prevailing climatic conditions were not good for even the best French or Spanish wine.
In my last years of service I also got to know Italian comrades, and their friendship led to my getting to know and loving the wine regions of Italy to this day - currently it's Puglia - which makes my better half particularly happy, who has a very special affinity for Italy has.
Without really having become a great wine connoisseur, but who likes to drink good wines, I have actually only gained one insight: beer and wine have one thing in common, they taste best where they are produced.
That's why I still think it's good if I get a good Lemberger with my onion roast, which can also come from the Brackenheim area.