Oktoberfest: From Hops-Heaven to Wine Wonderland

Oktoberfest is the original Pinterest-worthy wedding celebration of the 19th century. And whether you’re celebrating the 2017 event in your local dive bar, have roadtripped to a nearby festival, or have made the journey to experience the real deal in Munich, Germany, the time for drinking liters upon liters (without needing an excuse) is here.

@LonelyPlanet

@LonelyPlanet

The history of this annual festival hasn’t much to do with lederhosen, pint-sized mugs, or beer tents; but instead, the story starts with two royal lovebirds who invited everyone in Munich to celebrate their union in 1810. In true royal fashion, the couple opened the fields in front of the castle - what’s now called Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields") as a shout out to the new Princess- to all city dwellers, vendors, and even horses for racing. While there have been additions (like 14 days) and subtractions (goodbye horseracing), the grandiose of the celebration has remained-- just with the lederhosen instead of ballgowns, pint-sized mugs instead of chalices, and beer tents instead of castles.  

For the locals and beerlovers, the 16 day drinking fiasco is like Christmas in September; for winelovers around the world, participation in the 16 day festival can be limited due to options. If you do make it to Oktoberfest HQ in Munich, check out the Weinzelt- wine tent - where you can choose from 16 different Weißwein (white wine) or Rotwein (red wine). If you can’t find anything there, visit the Hofbräu Tent where you can purchase personal pint sized bottles of white wine (because beer drinkers shouldn’t be the only ones holding pint-sized containers of alcohol!)

@PBS

@PBS

But it’s probably a fair assumption that most winelovers are going to staycation for this year’s beerfest. If you’re still wanting to participate in the drinking festivities, though, here are our suggestions for turning a hops-laiden festival into a very vine time.  

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Beer: Weihenstephaner Festbier
Wine: Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz 2015 Pinot Blanc (Pfalz, Germany)

This Festbier, the beer of Munich’s 6 certified Oktoberfest breweries, is crisp with a hint of spice and malt. This is a simple beer that is creamy but well-balanced with a finish that will leave you with a tinge of bitterness, likely from the ripe citrus hints. If all of those flavors sound like pumpkin spice and everything nice, this Pinot Blanc from Pfalz, Germany (a 5 hour drive from Munich) is your go to wine. With an expressive palate, you’ll get similar flavors of citrus with hints of lemon and nectarine from the crisp wine. And who wouldn’t want to drink a wine with a name as equally difficult to pronounce as the real-deal German beer for Oktoberfest 2017!

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Beer: Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Wine: Hendry 2014 "HRW Screen Porch White" (Napa, California)

This pairing’s theme: mild and a joy to drink. The Märzen beer brings summer fruity scents to the nose with an afterthought of spice that feels like the first hint of fall in the air. With a little more body and a cleaner finish, this beer is a unique drink to enjoy as the summer extremes dull and begin the slow fade into fall. And for the winelover, if this mild but joyful beer sounds enticing, we recommend Hendry 2014 “HRW Screen Porch White Wine.” A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, this fresh wine hints at refreshing summer joy with green fruit and citrus flavors and wraps up with the Chardonnay’s deeper and rounder palate. Truly a mild wine but a joy to drink.

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Beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest
Wine: Zind Humbrecht 2014 Pinot Gris (Alsace, France)

American beer influenced by Germany. This popular copper colored beer has fruity flavors to level out the notes of caramel and toffee. It wraps up with a stone fruit finish that allows an easy transition from light summer beers to this 16 day drinking fiasco. If you’re celebrating the fiasco with grapes instead of hops, the Zind Humbrecht 2014 Pinot Gris is the way to go. French wine influence by Germany. Technically a region of France, Alsace has obvious German influence perhaps, in part, because of proximity (just 15 minutes on the tram will land you in Germany,) or the fact that it was once under German rule. Pop open this bottle for an explosion of honey, stone fruit, and earthy tones that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve got one foot in France and the other in Germany.

So get to clinking those glasses and sipping those wines. And in true Oktoberfest fashion...

PROST!