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World takes to German wine

German wine sales are up across the globe, with the United States showing a particular thirst for the country's popular Riesling, according to numbers released by the Deutsches Weininstitute (German Wine Institute) on Thursday.

From July 2007 to June 2008, German wine producers netted around two million hectolitres in exports worth a total of €394 million, the Weininstitute revealed at the DWI Forums Export in Oppenheim. This makes for a worldwide increase of two percent.

With €99 million in German wine imports, the US accounted for more than a fourth of revenues – and remains the most enthusiastic importer of German wine.

“Riesling has become very trendy, especially in the US, and Germany produces 60 percent of the world’s Riesling,” Ernst Büscher, spokesperson for the Weininstitute, told The Local. German vineyards are focusing on the quality of the vine, rather than quantity of wine produced, which has helped the wines grow in popularity, he said.

While German wine imports are down in the United Kingdom, once the top-importer of German wines, other countries have increased their consumption. Revenues for exports to China are up by 53 percent, Belgium by 32 percent, Switzerland by 27 percent and Russia by 22 percent.

ASPARAGUS

Only in Germany: McDonald’s begins offering ‘Spargel Burger’

Amid Germany's famous 'Asparagus Season', the fast food chain has begun offering an unusual twist on typical ingredients.

Only in Germany: McDonald's begins offering 'Spargel Burger'
A basket of Spargel in Kutzleben, Thuringia marked the start of this year's season on April 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

How do you know that you’re definitely in Germany? One sure fire way: when you check the menu of a McDonald’s in the springtime and see a ‘Spargel Burger’. 

Germans are so enamored by the ‘white gold’ –  special light-coloured asparagus which is much thicker than its North American green counterpart – that it’s now a featured fast food at McDonald’s Germany, and with classic Hollandaise sauce and bacon to boot. 

On Thursday, the popular American fast-food chain restaurant – which counts nearly 1,500 outlets in Germany – published a photo of the “Big Spargel Hollandaise” saying that it would be available at select restaurants. They assured customers: “Yes, it’s really there.”

But its release was met with mixed reactions. “We absolutely have to go to McDonald’s sometime,” wrote one. Yet another called the unconventional creation “perverse.”

Another commenter showed skepticism: “Hollandaise sauce on a burger? Does that even taste good?”

Others weighed in on social media to point out that the product is a sign of Germany’s fascination with the vegetable. 

The burger is the latest to join the asparagus craze, with a phallic-shaped Spargel monument in Torgau, Saxony capturing the public attention – or bewilderment – earlier in the week.

An annual tradition

Every year, Germany typically celebrates ‘Spargelzeit’ (asparagus season) from the middle of April until June 24th, which many dub ‘Spargelsilvester’ (Asparagus-New Year’s Eve). 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Spargelzeit

The beloved vegetable, harvested heavily around the country, usually has its own special menu devoted to it at restaurants, and is sold in supermarkets – or road-side stands – next to jars of the classic Hollandaise sauce. 

The top states which grow the crop are Lower Saxony, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, but Beeliz, Brandenburg is also synonymous with Spargel in Germany. 

In normal years the tiny town hosts a sprawling festival to mark the start of the season, anointing a Spargel king and queen.

READ ALSO: Here’s why Germans go so completely crazy for asparagus

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