Want to enjoy food and wine in Mainz like the locals do? In this case a dinner at a Weinstube is a must. There used to be hundreds of Weinstuben in Mainz... today it's still about 40. Rarely fancy, these wine taverns correspond to a local neighbourhood pub. Weinstube is the promise of a tasty German meal, great wine in generous pours, and local conviviality. Step in, greet right and left, and find a table… or free seats since sharing tables is common and will quickly get you into conversations with locals.
Here are 5 of our favourite places to go to:
Wine lovers should not be deterred by the subdued looks of Ladendorf’s exteriors – this wine place carries some of the most sought-after wines of Germany. Also, the owners manage to list the latest hot-shot vintners – even before their stars begin to rise. Food is simple and tasty Abendbrot-style, think of a range of ploughman’s platters.
Go for: A bottle of Klaus Peter Keller’s G-Max, Germany’s rarest and most expensive Riesling. If you can’t afford that one, there is a range of affordable Keller wines by the glass - all wunderbar!
The “Red Head” Weinstube is popular amongst all generations. Owned and run by Marcus Landenberger, the only vintner with a winery in the city center of Mainz, this friendly joint features classic cuisine of the region. The wine list is strong on wines from Rheinhessen at extremely fair prices. Landenberger's own wines are well represented, obviously. But also wines from the regions of Mosel, Rheingau, Saar and Pfalz are available.
Go for: A bottle of Flik’s Sekt méthode traditionelle. Based in the outskirts of Mainz, Sekthaus Flik is reestablishing the sparkling wine culture that used to be so important to Mainz.
Mind your head when entering Weinhaus Bluhm. Located in the heart of Mainz' old town, uber-cosy Weinhaus Bluhm blends German tradition with a touch of French nonchalance added by owner Murielle. Unsurprisingly there is a French touch to the food menue, too. Weinhaus Bluhm is somehow a nod to Mainz's francophile past and present.
Go for… the Grauburgunder by the glass, specialty of nearby winery Braunewell. And add to that Pierre’s (Murielle's dad) not-so-German but very famous fish soup.
One of the oldest Weinstuben of Mainz. If you look for history and tradition in Mainz food and wine culture, this is it. Weinhaus Wilhelmi celebrated 125 years of uninterrupted hospitality in October 2019. The building goes much further back though, to 1750 when its construction just outside of the fortified city walls required a special permission by the military administration. The historic wood clad dining room is adorned with pictures of famous guests and the atmosphere totally compensates for a slightly uninspired wine list.
Go for… the off-dry Rheingau Riesling Hasensprung 2018 and pair it with Pfälzer Saumagen, a sausage specialty of the Pfalz wine region.
This wine bar got founded only 5 years ago and skyrocketed to almost instant stardom amongst German wine insiders. With no tradition to mind, a small but excellent seasonal food menue, and a wine list with plenty of excellent wines by the glass the team at Laurenz hit a homerun. Book well ahead if you want to enjoy an evening in this modern yet cosy winebar.
Go for… Foodwise: anything that tickles your fancy, you won’t be disappointed. Winewise: ask for the cellarbook and pick one of the mature Grand Cru Rieslings or Pinot Noirs.
A couple of Weinstuben Do's and Don'ts - applicable to (almost) any Weinstube in Germany
- Book in advance. English is normally no problem, but you'll earn a lot of points for asking first whether speaking English is ok.
- If you did not book a table in advance, arrive between 5 and 6 pm, as most popular places tend to fill up quickly.
- Do expect to share tables, so better not pick a Weinstube for a cosy date
- Acknowledge people on the way in and out: a quick 'Guten Tag', or a short nod is considered common curtesy
- NEVER EVER ask for a sommelier. Weinstuben may have very knowledgeable staff - but it's no-somm territory by default.
- Brag in modesty - while some weinstuben are stocked with top wines, bragging with wine knowledge or trophy bottles is frowned upon.
- Paying: Cash is king, followed by bank cards, then credit cards... forget Amex
Last Tip: You can buy any bottle to take away. And you will normally pay no more than the price you'd pay right at the cellardoor.