Friday, July 11, 2008

The Äppelwoi experiment, part II

Amidst our continuing research into the essential heart of Äppelwoi, we decided it would help maintain our focus within yet another brutal heatwave to crack open a bottle of this decidedly, um, feminine target-marketed beverage, Sweet Pea apple wine. As it turns out, there's all the more reason to slog wearily onward into the Hessen-jive riddled German online "resources" in our brewing safari to discover the secrets to reproducing Frankfurt's malic elixir, 'cause this stuff ain't it.

Not bad, per se, just not the same thing. In fact, were you to pair this side-by-side with a nice, say, Fumé Blanc, or an equally light Edelzwicker, you'd likely consider them distant, strange cousins, what with the similar green apple and stone fruit aromas, and crisp, quick finishes leaving just the tiniest dance of alcohol tingle on the tongue. Of course, whereas that's the opening descriptive salvo of a decent white wine, it's unfortunately the entire possible analysis of the Sweet Pea. It just doesn't have anything else going on. No impressions left by yeast, fermentation, aging, nothing. As clean and shiny as the stainless fermenters in which it was likely born and bred.

Äppelwoi, on the other hand, isn't shy about revealing its scars, its age, and its stories of childhood trauma. It's rustic, a tad funky, varies in character wildly depending on what time of year you order it, and has nothing in common with the stuff in the bottle pictured above except that apples were involved*. What exactly do they do those poor apples? The research continues. Utilizing the latest in lazyblogging technology, ie Google translation, a picture of the process is beginning to emerge. But even with the linguistic assistance of my mother, born and raised in the area and keen on colloquialism and the local patois, there's quite a few missing links to fill in still. On top of that, there's a real challenge in working through the texts we've found so far in dealing with the vast multitude of fart jokes that are endemic to the discussion of Äppelwoi. Truly. The fact that young Äppelwoi incites flatulence by virtue of it's copious amounts of live yeast is something heralded in song and honored in poetry. In homage to the undoubtedly awesome ice-breaking power of the stuff, it's known locally by the endearing name of Hosenschisser.

Hopefully next time I post on the subject, we'll have a clearer view not only of how it's done, but how we can aim to do it ourselves, once I finally discover that the catalog of words I'm working on translating are a menagerie of slang terms for humorous bodily noises.

* And I should admit that the inclusion of peaches in the Sweet Pea should have been some indication that we were dealing with a unique specimen of fruit booze. But, as there are a number of mysterious adjunct fruits mentioned in the chronicles of making Äppelwoi (namely the curious "Speierling", "Mispel", "Eberesche", "Quitte" and "Schlehe") that are included for the various components they can provide to balance the acids, add tannins, and emphasize aroma, it didn't seem that far-fetched to add some peaches into the must.

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Blogger erik.ellestad said...

I note a similar difference between most American apple products and their European counterparts.

I think a lot of the character of European apple beverages comes from them using actual cider apples as the base of the products instead of commercial varieties.

There's an apple brandy from Washington that actually touts the fact that it is made from Golden Delicious apples!

Is there a more pathetically flavorless and character free apple than the Golden Delicious? What on earth character is that going to bring to a distilled spirit or fermented beverage?

3:16 PM  

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