Raw, organic and unfiltered, drinking vinegar is everywhere! And, unlike the current celery juice craze, this is one trend I really want to embrace. Sour and spicy, this pantry staple is one of the most useful ingredients in my kitchen. But, after sampling several versions of the wellness drink, I never really found the right drinking vinegar for me. Until Doktorenhof.
Unassumingly positioned on a beautiful tree-lined street in Venningen, Germany, Doktorenhof is a bewitching estate complete with candles, cloaks and choir music. Owner Georg Wiedemann is dedicated to the “sour arts” and produces only the finest vinegar with passion and panache. Here, vinegar is produced by hand.
After a warm greeting in the charming, cherub-filled courtyard, I was invited to wear a traditional cloak to help me more fully experience the history and tradition that goes into vinegar production. Yes, please!
Wrapping the robe around my shoulders, I was excited to begin my descent into the dark, chilly basement and immerse myself in the mystery of vinegar-making.
Because the cellars must be kept cool and dark, we explored the rooms entirely by candlelight! After walking down several steps, we arrived in the vinegar and herb cellar.
Old oak casks that contain the aging vinegar line the walls. Glass bowls containing dozens of dried herbs are kept on shelves. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar ‘mother’ and flavored with a variety of herbs, spices and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, which are then intended to be sipped from a specially-designed, long-stemmed glass in between courses or after a meal. Once our tour of the cellar was completed, it was time for a taste!
Doktorenhof’s atmospheric tasting room is like no other you’ll ever experience. Soft choir music fills the stunning space as elegant, hand-blown tasting glasses are distributed for the tasting, which was conducted by none other than Georg Wiedemann.
Georg explained each flavor in detail, identifying the fruit or herbs used in the vinegar and also the uses of each. Some vinegars are mellowed with honey, others are seasoned with herbs and one is flecked with gold leaf. Varying in sweetness and flavor, I was able to taste five different vinegars, which were perfectly paired with a selection of breads and chocolates. My favorite? Angels Kissing the Night, an exquisite blend of wild cherries, apricots, figs and vanilla.
This tour was as tasty as it was educational — and you won’t find these vinegars on Amazon! So, choose wisely from a wide variety of more than 50 vinegars on offer in their shop (Doktorenhof cannot ship to the U.S.!). As for me, I bought a beautiful pre-packaged set of the five flavors featured in our tasting to share with my husband, as well as two of the tasting glasses.
Clasping my bags as I left, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the experience. Even if vinegar isn’t your thing, this tour is NOT TO BE MISSED! And one thing’s for certain: I’ll never look at vinegar the same way again. Well-done, Doktorenhof. Well-done.
Ready to book YOUR next trip to Germany? Hit me up! Europe and the Exotics are my speciality. Plus, I know Germany! (Fun fact: I was born in the Black Forest.)