I was 21 when I lived in Germany. As an American, this meant that I lived in the Land of Beer right after I had been allowed onto the Planet of Beer. Not that I didn't sneak a drink (or ten, I made some poor choices when I was 18) before that, but I had been limited to the few cheap beers I'd heard of. But suddenly my little, naive self was in Germany, exposed to some of the best beers in the world.
To this day, I have not had a beer I enjoy more than the Black Forest's Rothaus (though Minneapolis's Nordeast is a close second). In fact, it's such a special beer that the main beer (the Tannan Zäpfle pictured on the right) is only sold in Germany. Or at least in 2010 that was the rule, it's possible it's changed. When I lived in London in 2016-2018, there were Rothaus options in certain "fancy" bars but they were never the Tannan Zäpfle option.
But Freiburg is not only a beer capital. Baden-Württemberg, the state that Freiburg is located in, is actually better known for wine than beer. The grocery store near my apartment was full of wine, most of which was cheaper than even the cheapest wine back in America. And it was good! I was still in my novice days regarding wine, and didn't know yet that I do not like red wine. So I would go to the grocery store and choose a bottle based solely on its appearance (a personal favorite was this one I got a selfie with back in my lip ring days - it looked like a monk's jug!)
One memorable experience occurred in early November that year. My apartment had become a haven for the tiny fruit flies seeking refuge from the cooling air outside. I had a glass of red keeping me company one evening. As I took a sip, I realized that the wine was gritty. "What the...?" I thought, looked down at the glass, and immediately recoiled. The wine was teeming with fruit flies. Dozens of their bodies were floating in this glass that I had poured maybe ten minutes earlier. Perhaps this is where my hatred of red wine stems from!
Being a wine region, my study abroad program (with IES Abroad, of whom I cannot say enough good things) took us on a field trip to a local vineyard. Best field trip ever!
It was really interesting, actually. A man led us through various rooms, with both oak and stainless steel vats, while he told us about the history of the vineyard itself, wine's importance to Baden-Württemberg, and how to properly taste wine. (it involved a lot of swirling and sniffing, I don't know. To this day, I just drink the cheap stuff).
I spent the tour with my two closest study abroad friends, Emy and Jessica. The former didn't drink at all (though was willing to pose for photographs with it), while the latter was happy after a couple of glasses. Basically, this meant that I got most of their samples. Like I said, best field trip ever.
This was also the first time I ever tried ice wine, which is such a delightful little treat.