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Franconia: A land of wine and food

entertainment Updated: Sep 30, 2011 01:32 IST
Rupali Dean
Rupali Dean
Hindustan Times
Franconia

Franconia, located in the heart of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, offers a variety of dining and wining experiences. And, the best way to explore the region is on a bicycle, as it is a cyclist’s paradise.

OLDEST WINE GROWING REGION IN EUROPE
Blessed with a mild climate, fertile soils and sunny hillsides, Franconia has been cultivating wine for more than 1200 years. The famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote: Too bad that you can’t pet this wine. One is amazed at the variety of appellations in this region that make all wines taste remarkably different. To get an insight into the history and stories, it’s best to experience it firsthand while taking a sunset stroll through the many vineyards. The Bocksbeutel — the traditional, Franconian fat bellied bottle has been the symbol of guaranteed quality for over 250 years.

GOURMET TREATS
Down to earth, traditional fare is on Franconia’s menu. Most restaurants offer seasonal, authentic and good quality meals paired with the right wine. The cuisine is meat heavy, and typical dishes include Schäuferla, slow roasted pork shoulder; Sauerbraten, roasted meat in a slightly sour gravy; Zweibel, ground meat roasted with onion; and various sausages that are served with side dishes such as potato dumplings, Sauerkraut or slow cooked buttery potatoes and broth. They love their seasonal mushrooms, with chanterelles being their favourite. Schweinfurt Schlachtschuessel — a culinary highlight — is roasted suckling pig. In this dish, generally from the fatty to the lean meat are served on wooden boards, accompanied by farmhouse bread, Sauerkraut, fresh horseradish, salt and pepper.

BEER… OF COURSE!
You can’t come to Germany and only drink wine. Franconia too delights in beer and boasts of many fantastic breweries. We dined at a traditional Franconian restaurant, where we sampled the famed Nuremberg Bratwurst, which was delectable. We also guzzled some beer that was described to us as dark, strong and old Franconian. Another popular drink in Franconia is Radler — beer mixed with lemonade. The name literally translates into bicyclist, and is for those who are thirsty but do not want to wobble for the rest of their cycling trip.

WINE VARIETIES OF THE REGION
Silvaner: Stands out for its elegant and refined flavour.
Riesling: High in mineral content, it is amazingly fresh to taste, spirited and has a great aroma.
Muller-Thurgau: Known as Rivaner, it’s light, expressively fruity, elegant and delicious.
Pinot Blanc: Has a touch of nutty taste and a refined fruity flavour. It is aged in wooden barrels.
Pinot Noir: It’s a perfect match for any meal. The fragrance of berries enhances the taste.
Domina: Owing to its mild cherry flavour, it pairs well with Mediterranean flavours.
Rotling: An interesting blend of red and white grapes, it is tangy, light, fruity and very summery.