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German wines sell well even in global financial gloom

The German wine industry seems immune from the global financial crisis, with sales at home as well as abroad unaffected by the crash.

German wines sell well even in global financial gloom
Photo:DPA

“The horrific stories about the economy are not applicable to us,” said Steffen Christmann, chairman of the Association of Quality Wine Producers.

Rather than a reduction in sales as people cut back on luxuries, he said some areas were even ordering more wine than before the world economy started to stutter.

“As well as the trend to regionalisation, where people demand products from their local areas, we still have the globalisation tendency,” Christmann said.

He said what was remarkable was the advance of German wines into countries previously thought to be impervious to the appeal of Riesling and Grauburgunder. People in Spain and Italy are buying German wine, he said – adding that even in France sales were up. “Although this is really just a beginning,” he said.

He said discussions were taking place about how the new European Union wine labelling rules, introduced last December, had affected sales. These meant that the name of the vintner, as well as grape varieties and certain descriptions of taste were included, but that German terms such as spätlese or Kabinett had less prominence.

“Until now in Germany it was possible to combine the origin of the grape with all kinds of grape varieties and qualities,” said Christmann.

He said this had led to some confusion among customers who could end up getting two very different wines from the same winery.

“It did make sense to limit the endless combinations,” he said. But he added it was important to maintain the German traditions and variety.

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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