WINE CULTURE OF
ALSACE

by Katie McElveen

Albert Seltz knows wine. A 14th-generation vintner from Mittlebergheim, a tiny hamlet in France’s Alsace region, Seltz can speak for hours about soil composition, pairings, sugar content and proper serving temperature. Today, though, as we’re standing in the tasting room of his 16th-century home and winery, he’s teaching me how to properly spit wine onto the floor, a necessary skill since there are no spit buckets in the vicinity and, at 10 a.m., it’s too early to start rinking. It’s not going well. As my companions effortlessly shoot perfect spurts out of pursed lips or take the easy way out and swallow, I’m dribbling down my chin. M. Seltz gives me one more chance, shakes his head and suggests we move on.

Alsace’s wine culture can be traced back to the Romans, who snatched the picturesque valley between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River from the Celts in 58 BC and immediately began planting grapes on the sunny slopes. In 1953, the French Government linked Alsace’s 107 “vintner villages” with a well-marked, 105-mile-long Route des Vins d’Alsace. It’s a beautiful trail that winds through peaceful vineyards, storybook villages and stunning estates.

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