At String of Summits, Merkel Ready to Serve The Finest Wine | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 07.03.2007

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At String of Summits, Merkel Ready to Serve The Finest Wine

There can be no bargain without wine, goes a Latin saying. So it's no surprise that Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has personally handpicked the country's best wines to serve at the upcoming EU and G8 summits.

Good wine can certainly facilitate some tough summit talks

Good wine can certainly facilitate some tough summit talks

Chancellor Angela Merkel had her work cut out for her when Germany took over the rotating EU and G8 presidencies in January. Breathing new life into the nearly dead European constitution, reviving international efforts for peace in the Middle East or battling climate change -- all are top items on Germany's agenda.

But Merkel doesn't just face political challenges. She is, of course, also responsible for being the perfect host at the upcoming EU and G8 summits.

And with France's connoisseur president Jacques Chirac at the table, Merkel isn't taking any chances.

According to wine industry officials, the chancellor has handpicked just which nectar of the gods will be served during dinner.

Finding the right red wine for Chirac's palate

Germany, of course, has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to wine.

Germany leads the world in production of the white wine Riesling, which has enjoyed a global renaissance over the past decade, said Michael Prince zu Salm-Salm, president of the VDP, an elite group of top German wine producers.

Kloster Eberbach

The summit wine comes from the vineyards of Eberbach Monastery

But Merkel's protocol office was stumped when it came to the red wine and contacted the prince for assistance. After all, there are fewer growers of world-class red wines in Germany and Prince zu Salm-Salm said Merkel was concerned about serving a wine that would measure up to Chirac's standards.

Merkel is right to be worried about the gastronomically outspoken French president. Two years ago, Chirac slammed Finnish food as the worst in Europe followed by that of Britain.

"One can't trust people who have a cuisine that bad," Chirac was quoted as saying in reference to British cooking.

That stinging criticism did little for France's relations with either country and Merkel clearly wants to prevent any such outbursts from overshadowing the summits she is hosting.

Merkel has chosen "Hell's Mountain" to drink

So what can political leaders expect in their glasses? After the VDP sent over samples of 12 leading red wines to the chancellery, Merkel chose a 2003 "Assmannshausen Höllenberg Spätburgunder," a Pinot Noir from the Rheingau region.

Merkel mit Weinglas

Merkel hopes to play the perfect host

It will be served at the EU summits in Brussels this week and in Berlin on March 25 as well as at at the G8 summit at Heiligendamm in June.

Although its name literally translates as "Hell's Mountain," it's actually a corruption of the German word Halden, which describes the steep vineyards where the grapes are grown.

Nonetheless, it should certainly liven up Merkel's meetings. With an alcohol content of 15 percent, it packs a lot more punch than most red wines.

"A good glass of wine will give them some good ideas," Prince zu Salm-Salm said. And hopefully keep Chirac happy.

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