I was in Austria a couple of years ago on a beautiful fall day…The leaves were turning, the sky was blue and although it was warm, there was a bit of autumn in the air. I was sitting in a picturesque garden café with my husband and one of his long time friends. My German is poor at best and ordering food and beverage is sometimes a challenge for me, but because we had walked to the café and I was extremely thirsty, I told the guys I just wanted some juice to quench my thirst. A flurry of German words sailed over me and I was assured by my husband that the “Sturm” would fit the bill…a little sweet, but with a bit of sparkle… GREAT!
The first mug arrived…it was off white and effervescent, slightly sweet. REALLY, REALLY good! Quite the thirst quencher…I ordered a second one immediately and downed that one almost as quickly as the first. Meanwhile the German conversation is flying way over my head…my husband, his friend and even the waiter were laughing and carrying on…what a lovely afternoon. As I was getting ready to think about a possible third glass I started to feel…well…kind of silly! What was going on? I questioned my husband thoroughly in English and threatened him with banishment to the couch when he admitted that the Sturm, my tasty “juice,” actually had alcohol in it…and with the high sugar content it can really pack a punch. YIKES! Talk about toasted!
Sturm is fermenting grape juice of high alcohol content. It is only on sale for a few weeks in the wine making regions of Austria and must be consumed quickly as it cannot be preserved. Actually, if it is sold in bottles, they will not be corked because it is still fermenting. Sturm comes in white or red and marks the official start of autumn for many of the locals. The next question that came to my mind was Wine Food Pairing….what does one eat with Sturm? Everyone at the table seemed to agree that wurst (or sausage) goes great with it and I topped it off with a side order of German potato salad…absolute heaven! I guess anything that is heavy or carbohydrate laden pairs quite well with Sturm. My good friend Claudia from Austria, who is a vegetarian, swears that black bread and a cheese platter are just terrific with chilled Sturm!
I can see why many tourists now opt to come to Austria and visit the wine country during the fall season instead of going to Germany for Oktoberfest. I have been to both and they each have their distinct personalities, but I guess I am a Wine Food Pairing “junkie” at heart.
At the end of our heavy meal, my husband ordered the traditional schnapps for the whole table, but that is for another story! Wine Food Pairing is an adventure…go out and enjoy! CHEERS!
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