Tag Archives: United States

A bread rant

A while back, my blogging and now real life friend Erica of Now Entering Flavor Country, an excellent and entertaining food blog, overheard (well, that’s probably not the right word given that I was pretty much yelling at her) me ranting about the horrible bread selections I find in America. It’s a big deal for me. So she asked whether I wanted to rant about it on her blog…

And I am extremely thankful she asked. Because I finally wrote all my misery down. And that is, believe it or not, therapeutic. American bread sucks. Period.

If you want to see what else I had to say, go check out the post and check out the site while you are at it…

“My wife says the easiest way to identify two Germans anywhere in the world is by listening to their first five minutes of conversation. Because, according to her, they will –100% guaranteed – complain to each other about how bad the bread is wherever they are and ask whether the other has found at least “decent” – or palatable – bread in the vicinity…”

Continue reading here.

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A cool hard cider graphic

Sometime last week I received an email informing me that there was a graphic out on the history of hard cider and its rising popularity in the U.S. (the person emailing me had read my Scrumpy Hard Cider review and was a collaborator in designing the graphic) . As some of you know, I do like a good cider (see, e.g. here, here and here). So I was intrigued and checked out the link to the website. And I have to say, I am quite impressed. The graphic is aptly titled “Cider is the New Beer (Almost)” and does a great job of explaining why it used to be popular but never really made a comeback after prohibition. I am still a bit puzzled by the growth rates from 2011 to 2012 in consumption but I assume that the graphic’s designers did their research right.

Growing up in Rheinhessen, Germany’s apple wine capital Frankfurt was close by but somehow I never got into drinking cider. I also never went to Frankfurt much (first because it is in the state of Hesse, which we shun!, and second because I am not fond of banks who love that city…great reasons, I know). Moving to Trier for studies, I came in touch with that area’s “viez” culture, a dry cider. Usually lower priced than any other alcohol it was refreshing, but I have to admit I preferred it mixed with lemonade because it was too harsh for me. It took Savanna Dry to turn me around. Now, I often order a cider at a bar over a beer because I like the fruitiness (as you can imagine, given that I also prefer the fruitier rieslings).

Whether you like it or not, the growing number of ciders produced expands our alcoholic beverage choice, and is in line with the general move to more local products because a number of them are produced by small producers locally. Especially in that regard, living in Michigan really is great.

Check out this graph and visit the website, there is an interesting short intro on the graphic available there. Click the graphic to get there.

Cider Infographic

Source: Hackcollege.com

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I’m back with a note on U.S. customs duties for wine

In case you got here through a search engine and are wondering how much wine you can bring into the United States from anywhere in the world my answer is this: As much as you can carry. The duty free allowance is one liter, which means one bottle. But, that is only the duty free allowance which means you have to pay no import duty on that amount. The thing is that US import duties on wine are very low, under $5 per gallon, which means less than $1 per bottle. So what you do is: Take as much as you can, declare it on your customs form, tell the agent that you have something to declare, and then they will most likely wave you through (we’ve brought 12 bottles per person many times and never had to pay anything). Good luck and safe travels! If you are wondering how to pack the wine, this is my post on how I do it. (Summary of 09/23/2013)


We’re back in the States. I am kind of embarrassed that I have not written more over the last weeks, but it just felt right to take a break and enjoy our time in Germany. The current heat wave in Ann Arbor (and that our house was without electricity for way over 30 hours upon our return) makes me miss the “German summer” with way less heat even more.

Our trip was really good, as I indicated in my last post in June. We ended up with way more wine than we had meant to acquire, but I guess that always happens to us. The last day in Germany was spent mostly scheming how to get as much wine into our luggage as possible. Turns out that we were able to bring 22 750ml bottles and 2 375ml! That is a new record for us. It makes sense, because German wine usually costs between twice and four times in the US compared to what it costs in Germany. Also, it is quite the hassle actually getting the wines because often they are only available through big wine sellers online and then you have to buy a minimum of 12 bottles plus shipping, which would completely overstep our budget. (If anyone has good alternatives, let me know!)

Scheming and packing…

A friend will bring an additional 13 bottles over the course of the next months, and 6 750ml as well as 4 375ml bottles will be waiting with my mother to make their way here.

A lot of people keep telling me that you can only bring one bottle of wine per person into the United States. That is wrong. Correct is: Your duty-free customs allowance is 1 liter of wine, which usually brings you down to 1 bottle. That is only the duty free amount. Naturally, you can bring home more. You will have to declare it and potentially have to pay customs duty on these wines. What nobody knows, and I have not been able to find the information online anywhere, is that customs duty on wine is dirt cheap. How I know? We were stopped by customs this time around.

I always declare the number of bottles I am bringing (usually 8-9) and notify the customs agent that I have wine to declare. This usually leads to them waving me through without checking. This time around, we declared our wine together (23 full bottles), and that startled them. So we had to go to a booth and talk to a customs officer. After him checking one bottle and being satisfied that it was indeed wine and not liquor, he had to check his lists for quite some time until he found out that the customs duty on wine is a whopping $3.45 (not sure about the .45, might be a bit higher) for a gallon of wine. You read right, a gallon. That is almost 5 bottles…Another customs officer explained that they have discretion on whether to collect customs duty up to $20. And since filling out the paperwork probably costs more than they can raise, they decided to waive the duty.

So, please, on your next overseas trip: Go and stock up on wine that you cannot get or want to pay reasonable prices on. It is really easy!

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