Taste wine, buy wine
Lübeck was an important wine trading place already in the Middle Ages. As early as 1224, Lübeck merchants traveled to the Rhine to purchase wine, which, however, only the wealthiest citizens in Lübeck could afford at that time. The town profited quite nicely from the wine trade, because the merchants had to pay an excise tax. Wine was considered – even among doctors – a drink that had a positive effect on digestion, haematopoiesis and people’s mood. In the 16th and 17th centurie, the trade in red wines from France gained importance.
You may have heard the term “Lübecker Rotspon” before. The Low German name derives from red – for red wine – and spon for chip – the wooden chip of the wine barrels. These are wines that were purchased in France and transported to Lübeck for refinement on the merchant ships of the Hanseatic League and bottled here on site. To this day, it is said that Napoleon’s troops, who occupied Lübeck in 1806, raided the Lübeck wine cellars and were amazed to find that the Rotspon tasted much better than at home in France.
Now, none of us was present when this realization matured in the occupiers. However, this story is a beautiful legend. The tradition of Rotspon production has remained true in Lübeck to this day. Today I invite you to visit with me seven places where you can enjoy wine and, if you like, buy it directly. However, Rotspon is by no means the only highlight that you will get to know today.
7 towers – 7 tips
Barrique at Beckergrube 13-17 is prominently located across from Lübeck’s magnificent theatre. The Lübeck store is managed by Jano Römer, for whom the focus is on the individual shopping experience of the clientele. In addition to selected wines, you can also buy exquisite oils, fine vinegars, high-quality brandies and fine liqueurs in the store. Every month an evening event is dedicated to wine and spirit tasting. You can enjoy a buffet and Jano Römer will present the specialties of the evening in detail. However, you can also have your glass of wine directly on site in the wine bar. During Advent, many guests come here especially for the delicious mulled wine.
In Pfaffenstraße 18-20 you will find the Weinkontor of Jörg and Dirk Iwan on two floors in historic premises. A true institution in Lübeck! The Weinkontor has been located here since 2014. A branch has now opened in the courtyard of the Town Hall, revitalising this space in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also enjoy a glass of wine outside. – For me, the inner courtyard of the Town Hall is one of the most beautiful places to look up at the sky and the imposing towers of St Mary’s. – The atmosphere is relaxed in both places. Many guests have been coming for years and are practically already part of the family. The two wine connoisseurs feel closely connected to Lübeck and are hosts with heart and soul. You can make your choice here from more than 50 open wines and enjoy your glass with small treats. By the way, the two house brands Rathaus sparkling wine edition and the Emanuel Geibel sparkling wine are particularly popular. If you’re still working on your wine expertise, you might want to check out the wine encyclopediawhich you can find on the website of the Wein-Kontor.
In the popular Hüxstraße 59 you will find the Miera Weinbar . The small cozy bar is located in the neighbouring building of Manfred Miera ‘s restaurant. Here you can linger to choose your wine from more than 150 wines, taste it and then transfer a bottle or two to your home wine rack. I recently discovered there the “Blutsbruder” (blood brother) red wine of the Karl-May winery. A dry red that tastes so wonderfully like berries. I recommend visiting Miera Weinbar for a wine tasting. It is always a pleasure to experience Manfred Miera when he presents exquisite wines and background information on the winemakers, all of whom he knows personally, of course.
At Fleischhauerstraße 30, the Nordisches Weinhaus awaits you for wine tastings. Lübeck Rotspon has been produced here for decades. The small garden in the backyard is a true oasis of peace and a very typical hidden Lübeck garden with a view of historic walls. Take the time to taste one of the open wines with an exquisite platter of antipasti. With the Coellmann marzipan bread, which is handmade in-house, the Nordisches Weinhaus has another Lübeck specialty to offer.
Wine shop Roeper
Ulrich Männel has been running the Roeper wine shop for more than 25 years. In the premises at Hüxstraße 24, he provides advice with enviable professional and personal competence. This is no wonder: he has already been loyal to the wine industry for 40 years. During my visit, Ulrich Männel recommends the red wine Pi 3.1415 Concejon. Concejon is a very old grape grown in the Langa winery near Zaragoza.
The grapes of the vines, which are up to 100 years old, are harvested there by hand. Since the winery covers a size of 3.14 hectares, the name of the magic number Pi was the obvious choice. This wine is also recommended to people who are not math geniuses.
“The butt wants to swim”. The Wein-Castell at Glockengießerstraße 19 is another traditional address in Lübeck. Kurt Thater stocks wines from Europe with a focus on Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as white wines from Germany. He knows the taste of each of the wines offered here. For him, sharing his expertise with his clientele is a matter of course.
The wine shop is located in the direct vicinity of the Günter Grass House. Between 2002 and 2014, Nobel Prize winner for literature Günter Grass, who was also known to be an avid draftsman, created the labels for the Grass Edition red and white wines. He usually chose one of his famous animal figures as the annual motif. Günter Grass developed the idea himself and only skipped the tradition twice, Kurt Thater tells me. In 2011 and 2013, Grass had simply forgotten about it.
Wine House H.F. Von Melle
The last tip in this alphabetically ordered list takes us to Weinhaus H.F. von Melle at Beckergrube 86. Among those mentioned here, it is the most traditional and oldest wine house. Althäuser Sekt and Lübecker Rotspon are two of the house’s specialties that are popular far beyond the borders of Lübeck. Many guests from Scandinavia are among the regular clientele of the house.
Von Melle’s top Rotspon qualities range from light southern French growths to the renowned appellations in Bordeaux. Managing director and viticultural engineer Manuel Mack tells me during a Rotspon tasting that the term has been protected since 1965. I recommend the“Fredenhagen” Rotspon – a Syrah from the Languedoc. A dry wine with a little sweetness. It is named after Thomas Fredenhagen, a wealthy Lübeck merchant who first imported red wines from France to Lübeck in the 17th century.
You should definitely check out the wine house, not just for a wine tasting or your wine purchase. The building is a wonderful example of a typical merchant’s house of the Hanseatic period with a large hallway where carriages could enter, with the kitchen called “Dornse” and a small garden in the backyard. You really can’t get much more traditional than that!
Fancy a taste of wine in Lübeck?
I hope I was able to give you some inspiration and most importantly, that you can drink your wine in pleasant company. The Lübeck poet Emanuel Geibel already knew: “This is what should be praised about wine: It drinks best with two people..”