Thursday, January 3, 2013

A “Viertele” of Schillerwein at Weinhaus Stetter in Stuttgart, Wuerttemberg, Germany

Picture: A “Viertele” of Schillerwein at Weinhaus Stetter

A Viertele is local dialect for a quarter and means a quarter of a liter of wine. This is the traditional quantity served in the Wuerttemberg area. I recently had a Viertele of Schillerwein at Weinhaus Stetter in Stuttgart in Wuerttemberg in Germany.


Schillerwein is a very special wine, produced by blending red and white grapes before fermentation. Ideally, the Schiller is a field blend, i.e. red and white grapes are planted in mixed lots in the vineyards and are harvested and fermented together. I am not aware of any producer who makes his Schiller as a field blend, but in the old days it was the rule.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Schillerwein

The name of the wine has nothing to do with the famous German poet Friedrich von Schiller (although he is from Württemberg). The wine got its name from the verb “schillern”. The verb "schillern" means "to scintillate". Schiller, or Schillerwein, is thus a wine with a scintillating color, reflecting the fact that the wine is a blend of red and white grapes.

Rosé and Schiller

There are basically two ways of producing wine that is in-between red and white wine and often called rosé wine. First, using red grapes, but limiting the skin contact of the juice during fermentation so that only a small part of the red color is extracted from the skin and the wine thus has a rosé color. Second, blending white and red grapes before fermentation or red and white wines after fermentation.

Most of the Rosés on the market these days are wines that are produced 100 percent out of red grapes. Blending finished white and red wines is outlawed in many countries. Interestingly, it is allowed for producing Rosé Champagne and other sparkling wine in France. Blending white and red grapes before fermentation to make rosé-type wines is a specialty in a number of countries, including Germany.

Stuttgart – a City of Wine

Stuttgart is a city of wine, although this is not very well known in the world. Most of the vines are planted along the Neckar, but grapes also grow in the center of the city. Stuttgart has a long viticulture tradition. In the 17th Century, the city was still the third largest viticultural community in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The city boasts five wine growing cooperatives and a number of private wine producers.

Pictures: Vineyards in Stuttgart

Wine Tavern Stetter

Located in the arty Bohnenviertel (Bean Quarter), “Weinhaus Stetter”, a typical wine tavern, is a local favorite. It has a long tradition. Ernst Stetter established the company with a cooperage and wine trading in 1902. In the following years he provided all restaurants in downtown Stuttgart with wine. After the Second World War the wines were delivered in bottles and not in barrels anymore.

Pictures: Weinhaus Stetter

Roman Stetter owned and managed the wine tavern with his wife Gertrud until 2008. Since 2009, Andreas Scherle is the new owner of the tavern. The Scherle family has been owning Hotel Woertz Zur Weinsteige, including the Restaurant Zur Weinsteige for many decades.

The kitchen offers traditional Swabian food. Popular are Spätzle, pasta-type noodles made from flour, eggs, water, and salt. Spätzle are either served as a main course with some sort of sauce or with cheese, or as an accompaniment to a main dish. Also popular are Maultaschen, similar to large ravioli, stuffed with pork, onions, spinach, eggs and spices. They are served fried with onions and egg or in a broth.

Pictures: Wine and "Spaetzle"

“Besenwirtschaft” - a Seasonal Wine Room 

Alternatively, I could have gone to one of the many Besenwirtschaften. The history of the Swabian “Besen” starts in 812 with a decree of Karl the Great. This permitted the winegrowers to serve their wine in their own private households.

The tradition has continued to this day with wine sometimes being served in the winegrowers’ living rooms, sometimes in rebuilt stables or side rooms. The winegrowers place a broom ("Besen") in front of their doors as a sign that their homes are now open for visitors.

Under law, winegrowers may run a Besenwirtschaft without restaurant permission in their own home, however, not for longer than four months out of the year and not for more than two different periods of time.

If you are in other parts of Germany, you’ll see these establishments too.  They will be called other names, such as “Strausswirtschaft”

Wine Region Wuerttemberg

Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 German states that make up Germany. Baden-Wuerttemberg is one of the growth centers of Germany due to its booming export industries. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are prime examples. Baden-Württemberg comprises two wine growing areas, Baden and Württemberg.

Wine from Württemberg is mainly red wine. The main production area is along the Neckar River between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. There are also vineyards on Lake Constance that belong to Württemberg.

Pictures: Hotel Woertz Zur Weinsteige

More wine is consumed here than anywhere else in Germany - actually twice as much as in the rest of Germany. The German poet Friedrich von Schiller wrote already several centuries ago: “A Württemberger without wine--is that a real Württemberger?”

The Trollinger is the most important variety, which, with its characteristic bright red color, is grown almost exclusively in Württemberg. There is also Lemberger, which is a better wine.

With 11,000 hectares under vine, Württemberg is Germany's fourth largest wine region. Winemaking cooperatives are very common in Württemberg, number around 70, and are responsible for almost 75% of the region's production.

Wines from Württemberg are hard to find in the US. This is partly explained by the production structure, which is dominated by co-operatives. These co-operatives are known for producing top class wines. But they tend to be less aggressive in terms of penetrating new markets.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine basics: Field Blends

Woelffer Wines from Long Island, New York State

Schillerwein---a German Speciality

Schiller in the Glass in Stuttgart, Germany

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