Most important, isn\’t it?
Apple wine, the tangy drink famed for its thumping hangovers, is fuelling a crucial election campaign in Germany, pitting regional patriots against the bureaucrats of Brussels.
The European Commission wants to strip the wine label from bottles of the cider-like drink, known locally as Ebbelwoi, on the ground that it is not made from grapes. Yet Ebbelwoi has been drunk, and marketed as wine, since the 16th century in the state of Hesse.
It is part of the region’s historical identity and tourist trade. Tens of thousands of visitors to Frankfurt travel to the apple-wine cellars and taverns of nearby Sachsenhausen to sample the drink, which usually contains between 5 and 7 per cent alcohol. It is often drunk with sugary lemonade, hence the headaches and a reputation, especially among Asian tourists, for loosening the bowels.
“We cannot allow this history, this original Hessian product, to be robbed of its tradition by a change of name ordained from above,” Martin Heil, manager of a leading apple-wine cellar, said.
Under the Commission proposal, tabled in July, the EU definition of wine should conform to the rules of the International Wine Organisation. It should be made from grapes, not apples or other fruit.
Yes, the government of 450 million people must indeed spend its time regulating the labelling of a 400 year old drink. Just as it has passed a law insisting that, for the purposes of jam making, carrots are fruit. With a fine of up to £5,000 or 6 months in jail for breaching said law. Yes, it\’s a criminal law, not civil, to insist that carrots, when in compotes, are not fruit.
Can we leave yet?