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Ebbelwoi etiquette

Amy Koerner, a British writer living in Frankfurt am Main, explains how best to enjoy apple wine in Germany’s banking capital.

I was introduced to apple wine (in German apfelwein, but known locally as ebbelwoi) on my very first evening in Frankfurt. It was an experience, to say the least! A packed pub, various ways to order the drink, a less-than-friendly waiter – an eye-opener all round!

Eight years later and I think I’ve got it sussed.

First things first, you need to pick a pub. I’d suggest heading to Sachsenhausen, a district on the south side of the river, away from the centre, where you’ll have the biggest choice of apple wine specialists. Two of the most well-known are Apfelwein Wagner and Zum Gemalten Haus. These large taverns are often packed and noisy, but lively and fun. If you’d prefer something a little smaller and less hectic, check out Zum Eichkatzerl, Apfelwein DAX or Zum Feuerrädchen. Whichever one you pick, though, expect a traditional atmosphere and lots of wood!

When you’re deciding where to go, note that not all places will take a reservation if you’re just a small group. As the traditional seating style is long, shared tables with benches, they may say they’ll just fit you in somewhere. To be fair, it’s always worked for me so far – and sharing your table with strangers is often a sociable, entertaining affair.

So finally the moment comes: you’re sat at a table ready for a nice glass of ebbelwoi – but how do you order it? Bearing in mind that it can be rather tart? There are three popular choices: straight (pur), mixed with sparkling water (sauer gespritzt) or mixed with lemonade (süß gespritzt). Some purist establishments refuse to serve the sweetened variety, though – and you may be judged if you try to order it!

Most servings are in a 0.3-litre, diamond-patterned glass called a Geripptes. If a few of you are drinking, you could order a Bembel. This is a grey ceramic jug adorned with distinctive blue detailing, which holds a larger amount. You order a Bembel based on how many 0.3-litre glasses of pure apple wine it contains. So a vierer Bembel would contain four 0.3-litre servings, an achter Bembel eight servings. You can then order sparkling water or lemonade to go with it.

A final heads up: if the waiting staff are not that friendly, don’t take it personally – it’s pretty common, it’s not just you. So long as the ebbelwoi and conversation are flowing, good times are sure to be had by all!



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