Wine trouble – my first of many. A Monthly Wine Challenge Post.

This is my attempt at meeting the Monthly Wine Challenge #2. In June, The Drunken Cyclist started a contest challenging other bloggers to write about a topic connected to wine, his was “transportation”. I wrote about the monorack trains in the Mosel vineyards back then. The Armchair Sommelier’s entry was rightly voted the most entertaining post, so Kirsten got to decide on a new topic. She chose, quite ominously, “trouble” (please find the original post if hers here: .

Also, this post was typed on a tablet somewhere in Cambodia with shaky internet connection. Please forgive typos, it’s a bitch to publish anything from a tablet…

If you’ve bothered reading my About page, you might have seen my casual mention that I had my first conscious sip of wine when I was around 8. What I didn’t mention there: it got me in trouble…the story is as close or as far from the truth as any story that has been retold many, many times, so take it with a grain of salt. I don’t remember too much actively.

Imagine growing up in a village that has around 20 wineries, part timers and full timers, surrounded by vineyards, cuddling up to the Rhine. My grandma went grape harvesting as long as her rheumatic bones permitted, and longer. For me and my brother, she would always bring grapes to eat and I ate so many that I usually got diarrhea, but they were so good…

Imagine the smell of crushed grapes, wet fall air, and the early smells of fermentation hovering over this village, every September/October. Imagine a boy, scared of forests, but very comfortable in the rows and rows of vines, orderly planted. That boy imagined these rows were his legions, as the zipped past the window of his dad’s car on the way to the city.

The highlight, at least for the adults, was, and still is, the annual wine festival, or “Weinfest” in German. It is held every last July weekend. It is a chance for winemakers to sell their wines, emptying their cellars for the next harvest to come. They set up booths or open their big, heavy estate gates and put up wooden benches and sell wine, steaks and regional favorites such as rolls with raw sausage meat on it, dipped in fresh onions. Divine.

It wasn’t just for adults, we kids were always allowed to go and stay up late. Watching the fire works on Friday night, using pocket money for sweets and treats, chasing other kids, riding the merry go round. There was always plenty of action. We were mostly let loose, just had to check in with our parents once in a while, who, as the evening progressed, became happier and happier…

But now to my trouble: My dad had a ritual. Every evening of the wine festival, as he prepared to go home, he would stop at my mom’s cousin’s winery, possibly to eat one last of those raw sausage rolls (without the onions for him) but definitely to have his final drink of the night. It was usually an Auslese or Beerenauslese, sometimes a glass of ice wine or even Trockenbeerenauslese. All of these wines are sweet wines, and a TBA or Eiswein would command a price of up to 5 Deutsche Mark per glass (an astonishing $3, which was a lot when you consider that whole bottles of Spaetlese or Kabinett usually sold for less). But it was my dad’s ritual.

I had been told to meet him at the winery and as I ran up to him, he had just received the glass. He tried a tiny bit, smiled, and then handed the glass to me. He said: “Try it, it tastes like grape juice.”

The wines I had had before that failed toimpress me. They were weird, alcoholic. Just strange. But I did like grape juice, especially fresh from the wineries. So I tried a tiny bit. And oh my gosh was this good: like grape juice and honey. I didn’t think, and I downed the whole glass…only to see my dad’s face change. He was shocked, and became mad. It was an expensive glass, and I had just downed it. He was not going to buy another one. As he started scolding me, and I realized I was in trouble, things got very blurry and next thing I knew, I woke up in bed the next morning. Feeling a bit weird. I remembered the trouble I was in, but upon seeing my dad, he just smiled and my story was told to his friends that night. It caused laughter…

For me, this trouble has lead, eventually, to a blessing, my love and appreciation for wine. I have had it easy, growing up in these surroundings, to fall in love with wine and its culture. It got me into trouble many more times, but those are different stories…

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25 thoughts on “Wine trouble – my first of many. A Monthly Wine Challenge Post.

  1. Julie Barden says:

    I just got back from Neckenheim where my sister-in-law lives in a village in the vineyard. It was breath taking and so serene. I miss our vineyard walks. 😍

  2. […] its third round. Sally of My Custard Pie wrote the best piece last month around the theme trouble (this is what I could muster) and threw out the next challenge: Possession. Find the full info on the contest […]

  3. Well, that explains everything. ;)

  4. Excellent story and vivid recollection, your prose never disappoints! Your ease with English is truly astonishing!

  5. Stefano says:

    Well, a few things from me:
    1. Hat’s off for having your first shot at age 8 – you beat most Italians ;-)
    2. Hat’s off for having TBA as your first shot – most of us had it of the least expensive/most alcoholic cr@p around ;-)
    3. Hat’s off to you for an awesome post, my friend! :-)

  6. Loved your story. Ahhh trouble and wine together. Perfect!

  7. 2stacy says:

    You? Trouble? No….

  8. talkavino says:

    Great story, Oliver… Don’t think it will be easy (let me be honest – the word is “possible”) to top it off – I guess you can start thinking of the theme for the next wine challenge : )

  9. Oenophilogical says:

    Great story. And very fun to hear a little about what it’s like to grow up (and live) in wine country.

  10. Dina says:

    Hat off for taking the trouble with the tablet! Loves reading your story. Happy and safe travelling!
    Love from Norway

  11. Oliver,
    A great memory, and truth be told, I think all of us encountered a bit of this “trouble” in our youth.
    – John

  12. Bravo, Oliver! I love this story . . . perfect! Thanks for taking the trouble to post from a tablet. Prost!!

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