There were many highlights during the week, so it would be impossible to pinpoint only one but certainly one of the most enjoyable was travelling to Germany for a friends fabulous wedding and a rather unexpected shopping experience for artisan gin and schnapps. I'm beginning to think that alcohol is fast becoming a regular 'theme' or 'feature' of these blogs and that perhaps it would appear that I don't do much but drink.
We flew into Frankfurt and then picked up a car to drive an hour or so in torrential rain down the autobahn (at break neck speed) to Weisenheim am Berg, a small little town near Bad Durkheim in Rhineland-Palatinate region. There were nothing but vines as far as the eye could see once the heavens where no longer throwing down the rain. The actual village was tiny with only three roads all leading to the town centre, 2 churches (one catholic and one protestant), 2 hotels, a few cafes and distilleries and not much more. All in all a perfectly, idilic setting for a wedding.
First things first, the Bride & Groom got married legally at the Town Hall which took place on the Friday, as church services are not legally recognised in Germany. Then the wedding celebrations kicked-off with drinks and a hog roast at the Grooms new BIL and SIL's distillery. We drank the German version of Prosecco, called Secco which if we could get in our supermarkets (or at a reasonable price), I would certainly be purchasing over any other sparkling wine. The bubbles are much finer and lighter, similar to a lightly carbonated water, only of course this was packed full of Riesling dryness.
The delight of the night; other than of course seeing friends again and the happy couple, was a surprise tasting of any of the SIXTY-THREE schnapps and the most heavenly Gin, all made in the Copper Stills at the distillery. Interestingly, Thomas Sippel (BIL) who has won numerous accolades for his Gin, took over his family's Vineyard as was expected. However, although he loved wine making, he was more interested in the art of distilling. At the age of 18 he set his heart on buying a copper still which would set him back about £25,000 or as he says two or three German cars.
Anyway, he raised funds and set about self-teaching himself how to make Gin; in fact that self-taught dedication took a year of tasting Gin every day with his wife and parents until they settled on the right Gin recipe. Thomas was urged to stay safe producing wine but he had a hunch about Gin and now, some years later, he is seeing the fruits of his labour as Gin as a drink is beginning to become popular in Germany, particularly artisan Gin. In fact, he is completely self-taught in the art of Schnapps making too and this year he's decided to take on Whisky Distilling. The Grooms wedding present from Thomas was the first bottle of whisky that was made at Destillerie Thomas Sippel, it was 70% proof and still in much need of maturing but smelt amazing, although it was a little too much for my taste buds.
But my little bit of heaven was in tasting Lemoncello, Almond Schnapps, Raspberry Liqueur Schnapps and the Chilli Schnapps. The flavour of the Almond Schnapps was just like drinking liquid gold, it looked like Almond Milk and was delightfully rich with a lovely natural sweetness. I could have stayed there all night sipping away but Man rightfully reminded me that it didn't taste alcoholic but by it's nature, it certainly would render my next morning very slow if I continued to drink it.
The next morning was packed full of lovely German traditions, all the guests met the Bride & Groom and followed them to the church. The service was supposed to be bilingual but after the opening welcomes the English seemed to be more German and half the congregation lost the thread (including the groom) of what was supposed to be happening. I simply loved the idea of letting go a hundred heart shaped balloons to celebrate the ceremony and then rather sweetly, the Bride & Groom cut out a heart from a sheet and then step through it as a symbol of their love, union and new beginning. I have to admit that this is my interpretation after a stilted three-way 'German-to German-to English Translation' conversation. But if I'm wrong, I'm not sure I really care, as I rather like this interpretation and it brings back very happy memories of a wonderful day.
In fact, it brought back childhood memories of living in Germany - although German food can be quite bland, the cold cuts, salami, ham (particularly their Black Forest Ham) was just as amazing as I remembered it. Sadly I didn't get any for free like I used to when I was a little blonde haired and pigtailed five year old. I'd forgotten how much I love cold cuts for breakfast, it seems truly decadent to eat them so early in the day but I couldn't get enough of the meat every morning at breakfast.