Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commemorating Boozing Dates

Most beer drinkers know about the German purity decree for their favourite brew. It isn't actually German since it was Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria ordering on April 23, 1516, the Reinheitsgebot that zu kainem pier merer stüchh dan allain gersten, hopfen un wasser genommen werdn (to any beer no more ingredients than barley, hop and water shall be taken and used). Well, they simply forgot the yeast without beer cannot be brewed. Nowadays we celebrate April 23, as the day of German beer.


The decree of 1516 is not the first attempt to keep boozing headache-free. Eighteen years earlier in 1498 the Imperial Diet met in Freiburg to make peace with the Swiss who hadn't accepted the newly established Imperial court and above all had stubbornly refused to pay the Imperial tax i.e. the common Pfennig. The diet was not successful in putting the Confederates back into their place; on the contrary one year later when the Emperor wanted to bring the Swiss to their senses his army suffered a crushing defeat in the battle of Dornach such that Maximilian had to give way. However the assembled princes did not leave the Freiburg diet empty handed for on the August 24, 1498, they passed the satzung unnd ordnung über die weyne (rules and ordinance about wine) limiting in particular the amount of sulfur to be used in the stabilization of wine already knowing that it was the concentration of this element causing headaches.

satzung unnd ordnung über die weyne of 1498
Why do I write about all this. The above story came to my mind when I recently visited the city of the Nibelungen, Worms. There I noticed yellow-white banners flying in front of the cathedral. Nothing exceptional for these are the colours of the Catholic Church. However when I came nearer I read: 500 Jahre Riesling-Urkunde von Pfeddersheim (Documentary evidence of 500 years of Riesling growing at Pfeddersheim). In this document dated November 11, 1511, it is mentioned: Item ein halben morgen rissling wingart im Funtdaill (among other things [about] a quarter of an acre Riesling vine garden in Funtdaill, i.e. a plot of land with a fountain). Today this vineyard still exists as well as the Riesling.

Riesling is one of my favourite grapes only topped by the Chasselas
known in Baden as Gutedel and in Wallis, Switzerland as Fendant
What however is more impressive and human is that people always find an reason for celebrating with and without a pretext like for the Weinfest in Emmendingen.


This year at Worms November 11, is not only the Saint Martin's feast with children carrying their lanterns around and adults eating the traditional goose or the usual day of the opening of the Carnival season at exactly 11 minutes past 11 a.m., this time even in the year (20)11, but it will also be a 500 years anniversary and thus an additional reason for boozing with ... Riesling.

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