How They Made it: Drinking Colum’s Rhenish in the Great Hall
Welcome back to our occasional series, “How They Made It,” where we explore the food and drink of Outlander. Here we look at drinking rhenish with Colum and Leticia as they entertain in the Great Hall.
I’ve been wondering about something for a while now…what exactly is Rhenish? You know, the wine that Colum served Claire during dinner in the Great Hall? Claire certainly enjoyed Colum’s Rhenish (enough to get Sassenach-wasted during her interrogation!), and I was intrigued…what’s it like? Can we get it today? Would I have a hunky Highlander waiting to escort me back to my room if I over-imbibed? (One can only hope!)
So what exactly is Rhenish? In short, Rhenish (or Rheinhessen) is a German wine that comes from the areas around the Rhine River, generally white or rosé, with lower alcohol content (around 9%ABV). I’m generally more of a dry Cabernet or Chardonnay girl, and I don’t pretend at all to know anything beyond the basics. Luckily, I found an article at Time Slips’ Outlander: Why is their Rhenish wine not white?! that dove deep into the weeds for the history of Rhenish and how it related to Outlander. Go there and prepare to be schooled! Suffice it to say that Colum must have had friends in the right places in order to get his Rhenish with a high enough alcohol content to dull his pain.
As it turns out, yes, Rhenish is readily available. On my own blog, Scotch and Scones, I write reviews about whisky tastings I attend, so I’m familiar with the nose/palate/finish aspect of tastings (i.e., the descriptions of the aroma and taste for a particular sample, and what you end up tasting at the end). I decided to try some Rhenish to see what’s what. I bought three bottles at different price points (I’ll tell you about that later), invited an esteemed panel of wine drinkers (ok, it was myself, my daughter, and her fiancé), and we got down to business. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
Note: In the review below, TL = me, S = my daughter, and D = my soon-to-be son-in-law. We’re a close knit, if slightly goofy, family!
Keller Riesling Kabinett 2015 9.5%ABV
- TL: faint nose, slightly lemon, slate, soft
- S: alcohol
- TL: very sweet, orchard fruits (peaches, apricots), light green apples
- TL: light tart finish
- S: sweet
- TL: lightly carbonated
- S: good starter wine
Seehof Riesling Trocken 2016 12.5%ABV
- TL: slate, minerals, bright pears, lime
- D: grassy, earthy
- TL: Tart green apples, earthy
- D: lightly carbonated, green apples (Granny Smith)
- TL: musty, fades quickly
- TL: less sweet, more interesting mineral flavors
- S: drier, more like Chardonnay
- D: much drier than last one
Dr. Beckermann Rheinhessen Liebfraumilch 2017 9.5%ABV
- TL: green grapes, lightly mineral, slate
- S: apples, peaches, fruit
- D: lightly fruity
- TL: green apple, green grapes, very sweet, light body, tartness
- S: enjoy chilled, almost tastes sparkling
- D: apples, medium sweetness, light body
- TL: creamy finish, tartness lingers, sweet vanilla sugar
- TL: has a tartness, needs to be chilled, great for summer, like cider
- S: good summer wine
Our favorites? I really liked the first two wines and kept wavering between the dryness of the Seehof against the fruity tartness of the Keller (the Beckermann came up last because it was too sweet for me). My daughter liked the Seehof best (she’s a Chardonnay girl and likes dry wines as well), but she appreciated the Beckermann as a nice summer sip. Her fiancé was solidly behind the Keller, followed by the Seehof.
Lastly, the prices. If you guessed we tried the wines in price order, you’d be right (I purchased these bottles last month in Boston, MA): the Keller was $30, Seehof $19, and Dr. Beckermann was a whopping $5 (yup, you read that right…it came from Trader Joe’s). It has to be said that just because the Keller and Seehof were more expensive didn’t make them better, but there was a definite difference to me. Everyone’s palate is unique, however, and if you like sweeter wines then the Dr. Beckermann is a great deal for a nice bottle of wine. Whichever you choose, enjoy it to the fullest…I think Colum would agree! Slainté Mhah!
Have you tried Rhenish? What are your thoughts? Please share your tasting notes with us!