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I Love German Wine and Food A Franconian Silvaner

If you are in the market for fine German wine and food, you should really consider the Franconia region of southeastern Germany. You may find a bargain, and I am sure that you will enjoy yourself on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local Silvaner white wine, paired with a variety of food. The Main River is Franconia's northern border, while the Danube River marks its southern border.

It is named for a Germanic tribe known as the Franks, who also gave their name to France. After enjoying centuries of an independent existence, in 1814-1815 the Congress of Vienna made Franconia part of Bavaria in southern Germany. Of the thirteen German wine regions, Franconia places sixth in both total wine production and vineyard acreage. Unlike many other German wine regions, here the Riesling grape is not a major player.

Over 85% of Franconian wine is white. The main grape varieties are Mueller-Thurgau, a German hybrid, responsible for almost half the local production of white wine and Silvaner, a grape also grown elsewhere in Germany, and in Austria, Switzerland, and Alsace, France. Many feel that the best Silvaner wines are grown in Franconia. About 40% of the region's wine is middle-quality QbA wine, and almost 60% is the higher quality QmP wine.

Only about 0.5% of Franconian wine is table wine. Do you like seeing the past? The Middle Ages trade route known as the Romantic Road peppered with castles and medieval churches, towns, and villages wends its way across Franconia. The city of Wuerzburg is the northernmost point of the Romantic Road. It is a medieval town jam packed with sites dating back several hundred years.

For example, make sure to see the Alte Mainbruecke (Old Main Bridge), the Dom St. Kilian a Romanesque cathedral, Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress) with the Marienkirche (Church of the Virgin Mary, this one dates back to approximately the year 700), the Mainfraenkisches Museum (Main-Franconian Museum), and the Residenz where the local prince-bishops lived. You may also want to see the Buergerspital (Almshouse) associated with the wine that we review below. Before reviewing the Franconian wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.

Start with a Frankische Bratwurst (Franconian Roasted Sausage). For your second course enjoy Schuefela (Pork Shoulder with Potato Dumpling). As a dessert indulge yourself with ApfelStruedel (Apple Strudel). OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Burgerspital Zum Hl. Geist Silvaner Kabinett Trocken 2004 10.6% alcohol about $17 We'll start by quoting the marketing materials. Let your guests know that this distinctively shaped bottle is known as a "bocksbeutel" and is native to the Franken region, not Portugal.

With the trivia out of the way, you're free to enjoy this Silvaner's slightly smoky aroma along with its floral, pear, apple and mineral notes. Medium full-bodied, its racy acidity gives it tremendous verve. Pair with freshwater fish such as bass or pike. The first pairing was with leftover, reheated chicken in soy sauce with potatoes.

The Silvaner was acidic, and I could taste smoke. It was quite nice, even more so after the chicken was finished. This wine was disappointing when paired with biscotti-like thin biscuits containing almonds and pistachios. Next I tried it with fried chicken breast strips, green beans, and rice.

The wine was less acidic but had a not totally pleasant taste. It was harsh. It was almost, but not quite citrusy.

I then went to a slow cooked veal chop with potatoes and chick peas in a brown sauce, accompanied by a spicy Moroccan tomato salsa. I cannot believe what happened to this wine. It became round, quite long, and pleasantly acidic. The Silvaner tasted of limes and apples. It also went quite well with homemade biscotti type cookies. My last meal paired this wine with a red pepper and mushroom omelette, accompanied by a commercial Greek eggplant side dish.

The wine-omelette combination was a success. The wine was fairly long and showed fresh, if not racy, acidity. However, it flagged a bit when teamed with the acidic eggplant. And now come the cheeses.

My French Camembert is now overripe. And yet this wine was quite interesting; it held its own, retaining its freshness without any aftertaste. My German Limberger is starting to smell like a Limberger. The wine was nice, round, and fruity. Frankly (no pun intended) in both cases I liked the wine, and not the cheese. Final Verdict.

I never thought that I'd recommend purchasing a Silvaner wine. Live and learn. I am ready to purchase this wine again, but would watch what I pair it with.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His major wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com and his major article website is www.travelitalytravel.com .

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