‘Tis the Europe Christmas Market Season

And there’s no better way to celebrate Christmas than a weekend enjoying the market’s sites, sounds, smells and tastes!

Christmas Markets originated in Germany back in the 14th century, although the Vienna “December market” started in 1294 and was a kind of Christmas market. Originally, the fairs provided only food and supplies for the cold winter season, but they soon became a holiday tradition. Starting on Advent end of November and continuing until noon on Christmas Eve, they are also called Christkindlmarkt (meaning “Christ child market) or Weihnachtsmarkt.

Villages, towns and cities across Germany come to life for the four weeks of festivities, each with their own traditions and flair. Stroll through the decorated markets and stalls brimming with delicious local food like Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Stollen (traditional German Christmas bread) and Bratwurst; warm local beverages like Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and Eierpunsch (egg-nog like); and amazing gifts like handmade books, toys, ornaments and much more.

Nuremberg and Dresden markets are the oldest and draw about two million people each year. Dresden’s market was first held in 1434 and now has over 60 stalls. Nuremberg’s first official records date to 1628 and now has over 200 stalls. You’ll even find 50 markets across Berlin.

There are Christmas Markets across Europe but Germany’s are my favorite! Find a full list here.

This week I’ll share my Must GO list with photos to get you in the spirit: Hamburg…the best Christmas MarketMore Christkindlmarkt HighlightsGlühwein, my favorite Christmas Market Tradition.

Wine Discovery in Germany … Neuer Wein

Happy Hour

On our October visit to the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road in the Pfalz region) we discovered something we never tried before … Neuer Wein (or New Wine in English).

Near the beginning of the Wine Road outside Bad Durkheim, we came across a cute little town, Kallstadt, on Friday late afternoon at Happy Hour where Neuer Wein was flowing.

Neuer Wine, also known as young wine, is pressed just off the vine,Neuer Wein On Tap has started to ferment and contains about 3% alcohol. It comes in red and white and its quite sweet, like drinking apple or grape juice.

What a great way to celebrate the wine harvest season. You could either have a glass at the road side Weingarten or fill up a jug from a local store.

To see more great photos of our Deutsche Weinstrasse Journey visit the gallery.

Cheers to Neuer Wine!Cheers to Neuer Wine

Deutsche Weinstrasse … where Wine is a Way of Life

The German Wine Road, Deutsche Weinstrasse as its called in German, is a beautiful slice of Germany a short drive southwest of Frankfurt, dating back 2000 years to the Romans. In the Pfalz region, or Palatinate in English, the Weinstrasse stretches 50 miles south through beautiful vineyards, quaint villages and castle ruins.

The Pfalz produces more wine than any of the other 12 wine regions in Germany…1 bottle in every 4 is produced here. And the #1 wine of the region is Riesling…aromatic, full bodied and lively, its not the typical sweet wine people often think of.

The Wine Road was so beautiful with vines as far as the eye could see everywhere we drove. Wine truly is a way of life for people of the Palatinate and we saw it first hand during our October visit with harvest season in full swing, farmers driving containers full of grapes, road side winegartens, wine festivals and wineries open for tastings.

The 3 day weekend was a true wine discovery journey..

– Bad Durkheim, the largest community on the Wine Road, is home to world’s biggest barrel! Celebrating 75 yrs it could hold 44M gallons but its transformed into a multi-floor restaurant which was a very tasty lunch stop! Bad Durkheim, ‘Bad’ meaning ’spa’ in German, is also a ’spa town’ so you can enjoy some relaxation too. And every September the town hosts Wurstmarkt, the world’s largest wine festival and sausage market.

– Kallstadt where we discovered Neuer Wein (or New Wine) and enjoyed it in weingartens on the side of road for Friday Happy Hour.

– Wineries and vineyards galore! All along the Road you’ll encounter wineries, many open for tastings. I had a great book to help in our journey, German Wine Guide by Armin Diel and Joel Payne (while heavy on wine ratings it also lists all the wineries with info on each). Also you can explore the vineyards on foot or by bike. Their are trails all along the Road and even great resting points to enjoy the vines.

– Neustadt is home of the German Grape Harvest Festival / Deutsches Weinlesefest every October and we enjoyed the party! This 12 day festival every year crowns the German Wine Queen. It has local food, stuff for kids, local dance & music and lots of wines to enjoy from across the Region. Just like the German Christmas Markets, the Festival offers you a slice of life in Germany.

When you visit, note the region has its own measure of wine… a glass is a half litre!

To see more great photos of the Winestrasse visit the gallery.

Enjoy & Prost!