When I told people I was going to be studying abroad in Germany, the reactions seemed to fit into two categories:
1. “Wow, what a great experience that’ll be!”
2. “Wow, I hope you like beer!”
The thing is, I don’t like beer. Never have. And, even after a few weeks of “the best beer in the world,” I never will.
No worries, though. Not all is lost on my “European experience.” Just to quiet the choir, I have indulged in a few school-guided and entirely legal drinking events.
Best of all was our day-long wine-tasting marathon in the only wine-producing region of Germany.
The day began innocently enough, with a train ride that took us from the big city of Köln to the quiet vineyards about two hours away.
Although the town was beautiful, we didn’t take much time to stop and smell the roses grape leaves. We were on a mission, after all.
A strong sense of determination guided us through the village streets, until we arrived at our destination: Mayschloss Winery.
I took a few moments to admire the selection…
Our hosts then broke out a bottle of champagne. Suddenly remembering my manners, I stopped gawking and accepted a drink.
Considering most of my experiences with wine have been of the boxed variety, this tasted like heaven on my lips. Walking a fine line between eagerly sipping and slowly appreciating, I finished my glass just in time to be seated for lunch.
Sounds of more bottles being corked drew us back to the wine cellar. There, we enjoyed a wonderful three-course meal, where each dish was complemented with a glass of wine.
Note: I’d stop keeping track of how many glasses, if I were you…
Every course was better than the previous (coincidence?). It all culminating with a delectable rhubarb-wine compote.
Although I could contently eat good food just about anywhere, the ambiance of the wine cellar made the meal all that more enjoyable. My only complaint was that the lighting was too low for any good pictures. How inconsiderate…
Oh well, no time to be wasted. Even with our bellies full of wine food, we had another destination: The actual vineyard.
While waiting for the train, we were treated to an impromptu “lesson” by one of our professors.
Note: I’m sure this related to something very educational…
After a brief ride, we arrived at the Mayschloss Vineyard.
We were given a brief tour and explanation of the bottling process.
Note: I forgot my notepad at home, so please don’t ask for anything I learned.
After absorbing a great deal of knowledge, we moved on to other intellectual pursuits… Studying the complex notes and tones of various wines and liquors.
I had a sample.
Or was it two?
It may look like fun and games, but really the day was filled with some important lessons and valuable cultural experiences.
We even ended the day with a final lesson: Don’t drink and drive.