The excellence of Alsace wines is recognized the world over. The region’s climate and complex geology are what gives Alsace wines an unmistakable character, but the ultimate edge comes from centuries of know-how, tradition and a healthy dose of innovation. As a starting point to explore the wine route, there’s no better place than the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg.
From Marlenheim to Molsheim, just few kilometers from the Alsatian capital, the vineyards of Strasbourg form the northern gateway to the Alsace wine route. Explore the wealth or architectural and historical medieval heritage and venture on one of the wine trails. Wines produced are mainly white and sparkling wines under the appellation crémant d’Alsace, as well as a few rosés and reds. The vineyard also produces an eau-de-vie called marc d’Alsace.
Did you know that Strasbourg is home to the oldest wine on earth? And it’s right in the center of town. The wine was reputedly made in 1472 and is lovingly stored in the cellars of a hospital. Yes, the Hospice of Strasbourg used to make wine because some of the patients paid for their medical expenses in wine parcels. Some of this wine somehow survived the centuries, war, political upheavals, and the ravages of time and you can pay a visit as part of a fascinating tour of the old hospice.
Take a wine tasting tour for half or a whole day from Strasbourg. You can drive or, even better, book a driver for your own private tour. It is surprisingly affordable, and has the added advantage if you wish to enjoy a few sips of wine –forget all that swirling and spitting – without worrying about having a designated driver missing out. Book ahead to make sure to save your spot, or inquire at the tourism office for the different options.
From the old-fashioned winstub, which were originally literally ‘wine rooms’, to the more contemporary and trendy wine bars, Strasbourg is peppered with great spots to enjoy the wines of Alsace, and find your own favourites. Once you find the one that suits your taste, why not make a note to visit the producer and become a lifetime customer? Every time you enjoy the wine at home it’ll bring back wonderful memories of your travels in Strasbourg.
Purist may frown on the practice, but mulled wine or ‘vin chaud’ is consumed in massive quantities in Alsace and throughout France. It is particular popular in the holiday season, and Strasbourg being the Capital of Christmas, doesn’t disappoint. Head to a vin chaud chalet in one of the dozen or so Christmas markets around the city during the month of December for a taste of Christmas spirit.
OK now you are well equipped with enough knowledge to hit the road. Starting from Obernai onwards, the wine route of Alsace will take you along a selection of wine producers that are geared up to greet visitors and showcase their methods and productions, culminating in a tasting. The landscape is stunning, the wines are delicious, the know-how is eye-opening, All the elements of a memorable trip for wine lovers.