German Wine Regions: Franken

About a year ago, I made my first trip to Franken (Franconia). I fell in love with the gently rolling green hills, the colorful, historic cities and the welcoming people. Throughout our visit, which lasted nearly a week, I felt completely happy, surrounded by history, nature and vibrant culture.

I also fell in love with Franken wine.

Where I live, Franken wine isn’t readily available, but some wine shops do carry one or two types. I’ve found it in some surprising places – college town wine shops, eclectic grocery stores – and I usually grab a bottle when I stumble upon a display of Franken wines.

Many wine writers have commented on the distinctive, dumpily-rounded Franken “Bocksbeutel,” or wine bottle, so I’ll be brief. The bottle’s unusual shape dates back to at least the 16th century. The name has several possible origins, but the most commonly accepted translation related to certain dangling, rounded parts of a male goat’s anatomy. The Bocksbeutel may only be used for Franken wines and a couple of other European wine varieties. Some Franken wineries have switched, at least in part, to traditionally-shaped bottles.