A fruity and refreshing alternative to the German love of beer
Think of Frankfurt and you’ll invariably think of business, economics and a hive of fast-paced, financial activity taking place amidst the many towering skyscrapers for which the city is so renowned. And yet, Frankfurt offers a much gentler cultural landscape beyond the global banking institutions that reside here, with a number of artistic, musical and seasonal festivities taking place throughout the year, be it opera, Christmas Markets or wine festivals. One such event is the city’s Apple Wine Festival, running from the 8th to the 17th of August, the perfect fruity complement to a Frankfurt short break.
For centuries, Frankfurt has enjoyed a long association with apple wine (apfelwein), its origins even pre-dating the German city for the Greeks and the Romans were said to be appreciative imbibers of the drink, with Emperor Charlemagne a particular connoisseur. Apple wine became a popular substitute for grape-produced wine in the 16th and 17th centuries and has since become emblematic of the region and the city in particular, with many different varieties brewed and served throughout the city’s bars. You’ll find it under a number of different guises, for it is known locally as ebbelwei, appler, schoppe and stöffche.
The festival itself takes place on the Roßmarkt and visitors will get to enjoy a wide variety of apple wines from the traditional to the trendy apple wine-based cocktails. There’s also a selection of apple wine-related merchandise for sale, from ribbed glasses (gerippten) and glass covers to the distinctive bembel, a bluey-grey earthenware jug from which apple wine is traditionally served. There’s also live folk music and poetry readings providing an atmospheric vibe to proceedings. The festival is open daily from 11am until 11pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday).
Outside of the festival, you’ll find apple wine available all over the city, but the Klappergasse is renowned as the centre of the apple wine quarter, with its famous Frau Rauscher fountain. The Alt-Sachsenhausen is also another atmospheric area dotted with ebbelwei pubs. Or why not take the Ebbelwei Express, a one-hour tram ride around the city, taking in all of the main apfelwein spots.