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Checks in Bonn: How good is the mulled wine at the Christmas Market?

Checks in Bonn : How good is the mulled wine at the Christmas Market?

City food inspectors and wine experts have been checking the mulled wine stands at the Christmas market in the city. As well as hygiene standards, the wine itself was scrutinised.

Who can resist the smell of roasted almonds at the Bonn Christmas Market. Or hot mulled wine? For many, grilled sausage or reibekuchen (potato fritters) like Grandma used to make are a must. To ensure that everything that tastes delicious really is delicious, the city of Bonn regularly sends its food inspectors to check the snack and mulled wine stands. They were out and about again on Monday. This time, the mulled wine stands were the focus of the checks. The results were good. Only two labelling errors were detected.

The city food inspector Christian Ewald and official vet Marion Orth were accompanied by Martin Kühn, wine and spirits inspector from the State Office for Consumer Protection and an acknowledged mulled wine expert. Usually, the inspectors show up unannounced but at three of the stands at the Christmas Market, the operators were prepared for the visit because of the many media representatives who wanted to learn about the inspectors’ work.

No hotter than 72 degrees

Peter Barth Junior has had his mulled wine carousel on Bottlerplatz opposite the Sterntor for many years. He willingly allows the three inspectors behind the bar. While Christian Ewald and Marion Orth convince themselves above all of the perfect hygienic state of the taps, fridges, sinks and dishwashers, Kühn sticks his nose in a mulled wine glass. Smell, then taste, then measure the temperature –that is the order. “A mulled wine should not be hotter than 72 degrees Celsius, otherwise the alcohol evaporates, the sugar caramelises and the cinnamon becomes bitter,” explains Kühn. Thanks to modern tap systems with constant heating, this is no longer a problem today. Kuhn says: “In the past, when the wine was still heated in kettles, the mulled wine could quickly become too hot and then brown and bitter.”

Peter Barth has such a kettle on the fire next to his modern tap system. “This is the reserve pot for when it is really busy here.” Also, only mulled wine heated in a kettle gives off the typical smell. What is special about Peter Barth is that he sells vintners’ mulled wine and not a grape mix from a large winery. He needs a certificate for this, which he promptly shows: his mulled wine comes from the Hobb winery in Franketal. He also pulls a so-called “bar book” out of a drawer when official vet Orth asks. Here is painstakingly listed when and how often the pipes and equipment are cleaned. Orth is responsible for all animal products, in this case for milk and cream. At the end of the visit, Kühn takes mulled wine samples that will later be tested in a laboratory. Then the retinue moves on to the next stand where Beate Neunen is already waiting for the inspectors.

Inspectors have hardly anything to complain about

Apart from minor details– such as incorrect product labelling – the city inspectors and Kühn have had nothing to complain about at the Bonn Christmas Market for many years. Those not adhering to the strict requirements of the food inspectors may have to pay a fine. “In individual cases, for example incorrect labelling, when a vinter’s mulled wine is in fact mass produced, the fines start at Euro 50 for a first offence,” says deputy city spokesperson Marc Hoffmann. If there is a danger to health, the fines would be higher, but it always depends on the individual cases.

What Kühn, who after 29 years as a wine inspector still enjoys drinking a glass of mulled wine himself now and again, does not assess is the taste. “This is well known to be different for each one.” He himself does not like mulled wine that is too sweet. His recommendation: “Pay attention to the cleanliness of the stand and the neat appearance of the staff.”

The Bonn Christmas Market is open daily from 11am to 9pm. The snack and drinks stands are open from Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 9.30pm and Friday and Saturday to 10.30pm. The Christmas Market finishes at 8pm on Sunday 23 December.

Original text: Lisa Inhoffen. Translation: kc