Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wine Tavern Beichtstuhl in Mainz, Rheinhessen, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller in Wine Tavern Beichtstuhl in Mainz, Germany

Mainz in the wine region Rheinhessen is, along with Bilbao in Spain, Bordeayx in France, Cape Town in South Africa, Christchurch in New Zealand, Firenza in Italy, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal and San Francisco in the US, one of the 9 wine capitals in the world.

But there is not a single wine bar in Mainz, as I know them from London, New York City or Berlin. However, there are a large number of wine taverns in Mainz.

Wine taverns do not have an elaborated list of wines, nor do they serve fancy and sophisticated food. They serve local wines, at very reasonable prices, typically from a handful of local winemakers that you do not find in the wine guides such as the Gault Millau.

The German wine industry consists of many small wine producers, totaling about 70.000. If you exclude the about 40.000 operators of less than 0.5 hectare who should probably be classified as hobby winemakers, you are down to 30.000 winemakers. If we move up to a minimum of 5 hectares, we get down to about 6.000 wineries, accounting for about 60 percent of Germany's total vineyard surface, and it is in this category that the full-time winemakers are primarily found.

The food is local. Well appreciated by the customers are Mainzer Wurst (Sausage) Salad, Spundekaes (a kind of cheese dip), or various kinds of sausages (I like the “Nackische”, a kind of pork steak tartar)

Often, in the wine taverns, there are two shifts. From 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm it is crowded with the older generation and later in the evening, you have students and the middle age generation.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller in front of Wine Tavern Zum Spiegel in Mainz, Germany

My favorite wine taverns in Mainz are:

Spiegel – has mainly wines from Weingut Ernst in Eltville, Rheingau on its menu and I in particular like their “Nackische” and Spundekaes with Brezel;

Loesch – known for its excellent steak;

Augustinerkeller – in the basement , with a bit of a wine cellar atmosphere;

Hottum – I used to love their egg and ham sandwich with mayonnaise, but I am not sure it is still on the menu;

Bluhm – a favorite student place

Last time, I was in Mainz, I had a couple of glasses of wine at the Beichtstuhl.

The wine list contains 30 wines by the bottle or the glass, of which 6 are red wines. About half of the wines were at the QbA level, which accounts for about half of German wine production. This are typically very decent entry level wines, ideal for a couple of glasses in a wine tavern with some good hearty food. There were no noble sweet wines on the list, which are so popular in the US. Almost all wines are dry and from Rheinhessen from a handful of winemakers.

Picture: Wine Tavern Beichtstuhl in Mainz, Germany

I had the Silvaner Weingut Strubel Roos for Euro 2.90 per 0.2 liter glass and a Mainzer Spundekaes with Brezels.

Beichtstuhl means “confession cabinet” and the story is that the Kuester (Manager of the Chuch) from the church down the street had run up a sizable tap and did not know how to pay. So, he brought over the confession cabinet and the wood was used for the interior decoration of the wine tavern. It started to be a wine tavern in 1870, when a wine maker bought the house and established a wine tavern in the first and in the second floor.

Weinhaus zum Beichtstuhl
Mainz, Germany
Kapuzinerstrasse 30

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