Pictures: 4-er Bembel with Schoppen in the "Seppchen" in Frankfurt
I grew up with apple wine in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Although there are 3 beer breweries in Frankfurt and the world renowned Rheingau and Rheinhessen wine regions just 30 minutes away from Frankfurt by S-Bahn or car, I would say that Frankfurt am Main is a city of cider.
Frankfurt has a large number of traditional apple wine taverns, where you sit on communal benches, eat hearty local food and drink sour and tart German apple wine. Typically, there is only one apple wine – the house apple wine – available, in some cases made on the premise.
Apple Wine in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
German apple wine has an alcohol content of 4%–9% and a tart, sour taste. Traditionally, it is not bubbly. Arguably, the capital of German apple wine is Frankfurt am Main.
In Frankfurt, much of the apple wine is consumed at the wooden, communal tables in the local apple wine taverns with hearty local food, like Green Sauce (made from 7 herbs and yogurt accompanied by boiled eggs and boiled potatoes), Rippchen mit Kraut und Brot (grilled pork, sauerkraut and bread). It is served in a Geripptes, a glass with a lozenge cut that refracts light. A filled Geripptes is called a Schoppen. If you drink more than a glass or are in a group, you typically order a Bembel (a specific Apfelwein jug). The different sizes of a Bembel are designated after their contents in glasses from 4-er to 10-er Bembel.
Apple wine did not gain popularity in Hessen until the 16th century. By the mid-19th century, 12 large commercial apple-wineries existing in Frankfurt, along with hundreds of small or private apple-wineries. Today, over 60 large and small commerical apple-wineries exist in Hessen, producing 1,040 million gallons (40 million liters) annually.
My Favorite Apple Wine Taverns in Frankfurt
The apple wine tavern (Apfelweinwirtschaft) is as distinctive a Frankfurt institution as the Bierkeller is of Munich or the Weinstube of Mainz. Many of the best-known establishments are concentrated in Sachsenhausen, but others are dotted all over the city. They are strongly traditional. They offer hearty local cuisine, usually at moderate prices.
Here are Christian G.E. Schiller’s favorites.
My Down the Road Apple Wine Taverns
Mainlust "Desche-Otto" (Schwanheim): A small and cosy apple wine tavern with a lovely garden, run by Claudia and Louie - in walking distance from where I live in Frankfurt am Main. Claudia and Louie's motto is "hard-core Hessian". They strive for the "not so usual", with delicious local fare with a modern touch, over 100 brandies (Louie's passion) and a Jazz concert series during the summer months. In addition to the regular "Haus Schoppen" they have a second, special "Haus Schoppen" that changes when the barrel is drunk up.
Frankfurter Hof “Seppchen” ( Schwanheim): A large apple wine tavern with traditional food.
Picture: Apple Wine Tavern Frankfurter Hof
Apple Wine Taverns That Serve Home-Made Apple Wine
Zur Buchscheer (Sachsenhausen) Appreciated for the home-made apple wine and its closeness to the Stadtwald, nice, partly covered garden with the apple press right there.
Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Robert Theobald's at his "Zur Buchscheer" with Bembel
Apfelwein Solzer (Berger Strasse 260, Bornheim): Popular place in a northern suburb; my wife loves their Green Sauce. Large garden.
Zum Rad (Leonhardsgasse 2, Seckbach): Has been serving apple wine pressed on the premises for 200 years, and for the last 20 years it has been run by the Gasser family. Large garden.
Zur Krone (Alt Sossenheim 37): A small place in a Frankfurt subburb, where you rarely meet tourists. A big Bembel on the small bar to pour the home-made apple wine. Down the road is Zum Loewen (Alt Sossenheim 74), with the best "gut buergerlich" kitchen in Frankfurt.
Zu den 3 Steubern (Dreieichstrasse 28): A small place in Sachsenhausen, a bit off the beaten track, home-made apple wine, opposite to Zum Eichkatzerl.
Momberger (Alt Heddernheim 3): A very traditional apple wine tavern, at the outskirts of Frankfurt, well regarded for food and home-made apple wine.
Other Apple Wine Taverns in Sachsenhausen
Adolf Wagner (Schweizer Strasse, Sachsenhausen): With an international, attractive crowd, next to one of my favorite Frankfurt wine bars (Paris Bar).
Pictures: My Granddaughter Lorelei Schiller with her Parents at Apple Wine Tavern Adolf Wagner
Zum Gemalten Haus (Schweizer Strasse 67, Sachsenhausen): Next to Adolf Wagner, my second choice if Adolf Wagner is full.
Zur Germania (Textorstr. 16, Sachsenhausen), Zum Feuerrädchen (Textorstr. 24, Sachsenhausen), Kanonesteppel (Textorstrasse 20, Sachsenhausen): All three next to each other in the Textorstrasse with good food and good apple wine.
Dauth-Schneider (Sachsenhausen): Nice garden for sipping under the stars.
Fichtekränzi (Wallstr. 5, Sachsenhausen): Its logo is a ring consistent of twisted branches of spruce, or - in German: Fichte. For many hundred years, in Frankfurt and the surrounding area, this has been indicating one thing: this is an apple wine tavern and apple wine is served here. Next to the Lobster, a French Bistro.
Atschel (Wallstrasse 7, Sachsenhausen): Relatively upscale food for a apple wine tavern, with garden at the back, next to Fichtekraenzi.
Klaane Sachsehäuser (Neuer Wall 11, Sachsenhausen). A place favored by native Sachsenhauseners, right in the middle of the Sachsenhausen tourist area, which has been run since 1886 by five generations of the same family.
Zum Eichkatzerl (Dreieichstr. 29, Sachsenhausen): In the eastern part of Sachsenhausen, at the margin of the Sachsenhausen tourist area, with squirrels to watch while you sip your apple wine in the garden. Opposite to Zu den 3 Steubern.
Other Apple Wine Taverns
Zur Sonne (Berger Strasse 312, Bornheim): Serving organic meat. Beautiful and large garden.
Apfelwein Foehl (Marktplatz 1, Neu Isenburg): In the center of Neu Isenburg with nice garden.
Apple Wine Producers
The most important apple wine producer in Frankfurt is Possmann. Heil from the Taunus region has gained considerable market shares in recent years. In addition, Rapps and Hoehl are two large apple wine producers in Hessen; their apple wine is very popular in Frankfurt. Noell from Griesheim is a new-comer in the industry and still small in terms of volume, but has started to produce single variety apple wine.
3 Very Special Apple Wine Places
In addition to the traditional apple wine taverns, I would like to mention 3 other apple wine places, that also serve apple wine, but with a different twist.
Andreas Schneider's Obsthof am Steinberg: A few years ago, a number of apple wine producers ventured into making premium apple wine by starting to produce vintage apple wines and single variety apple wines. While the choice of apple wine in an apple wine tavern is as basic as it can get (the house apple wine), the portfolios of the artisan apple wine producers resemble very much those of the Rheingau or Rheinhessen wine makers a few miles away: There is a variety of apple wines, with the vintage, apple variety, alcohol level, and other information such as sweetness indicated. One of the leaders of this new generation of artisan apple wine producers is Andreas Schneider. I visited him at his Obsthof am Steinberg in Frankfurt.
Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Andreas Schneider
Michael Stoeckl's Landsteiner Muehle: Another icon in the apple wine world of Frankfurt am Main is Michael Stoeckl. He runs the country restaurant Landsteiner Muehle in the Taunus, about ¾ of an hour north of Frankfurt by car. Michael Stoeckl’s passion is apple wine. He calls himself “Apple Wine Sommelier” and his restaurant “Apple Wine Bistrorant”, suggesting that it is a combination of Apple Wine Tavern, Bistro and Restaurant, focusing on apple wine in terms of drinks and food. The selection of apple wines available at the Landsteiner Muehle is indeed impressive: Ranging from Michael Stoeckl’s own apple wine to the premium apple wines of Andreas Schneider in Frankfurt am Main and other German producers to ciders made in other parts of the world.
Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Michael Stoeckl and Premium Apple Wines produced by Andreas Schneider and Michael Stoeckl
Michael Stoeckl and Andreas Schneider are the founders and driving force behind Apfelwein im Roemer, an annual event in Frankfurt am Main that brings together cider producers from all over the world. The Roemer is the historical mayor’s office in the center of Frankfurt. With the support of the city government, cider producers from Germany and from other countries gather in the Roemer for a day to present their products. This year, 40 cider producers from 8 different countries poured 250 ciders. The 2012 Apfelwein im Roemer is scheduled for March 18th.
Schuch's Restaurant: This is not an apple wine tavern, but a proper restaurant, focusing - like Michael Stoeckl's Landsteiner Muehle - on apples in terms of food and drinks. Juergen Schuch makes his own apple wine on the premise, including premium apple wines like the sparkling Apfelsecco, the ApfelSherry, the Quittenapfelwein, the Eisapfel and various single variety apple wines.
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