Saturday, 3 March 2012


Popped into a restaurant in Basel's business district near Aeschenplatz with my dearest on Wednesday evening for a bite to eat before spending a final couple of hours experiencing the sights and sounds of this year's carnival.

Basler Fasnacht begins at 4 a.m. on the Monday after Ash Wednesday and ends 72 hours later at 4 p.m. on the Thursday. Fasnacht doesn't have much in common with carnival in its various shapes and forms throughout neighbouring Germany (such as "Karneval" in Cologne, "Fasching" in Munich, "Fasnet" in Freiburg or "Fastnacht" in Mainz). One of the key differences is that, if you are just a spectator, you do not under any circumstances dress up in party attire. Doing so is an absolute no-no. At no other carnival in the world is there such a clear delineation between participants on the one hand and spectators on the other. Never shall the twain meet.

Participants all wear masks without exception, creating a unique, magical atmosphere that is both celebratory and solemn (or light-hearted and serious) at once. It's really hard to describe unless you've seen it for yourself, but Venice's equivalent carnival probably comes closest to it by all accounts. Even having witnessed Fasnacht 12 times now, I never tire of it.

Anyway, this eatery we visited specialises in "fast-casual" food with an Italian twist. Among other things, it has a decent selection of wines that you can order at the bar. Upon leaving the place, we discovered that their unwanted bin-ends were being flogged at massively reduced prices. Hence, I was able to acquire a bottle of the following wine for a ridiculous CHF 5.

3 Winzer, "Wingert" Riesling trocken, 2008, Rheinhessen, Germany
This is a joint venture between three well-known vintners from Rheinhessen: Jochen Dreissigacker, Stefan Winter and Philipp Wittmann. Based on my research, the 2010 version retails at just under EUR 9.

Inticingly clear, pungent fruit nose of grapefruit, peach and red apple. The palate does not disappoint, showing a good balance of succulent fruit and acidity. Pleasantly pithy with grapefruit again as well as peaches. The slightly citric bitterness reins in any overt sweetness and helps whet the taste buds. An enjoyable dry Riesling that, I suspect, much of the restaurant's Swiss clientele would have passed over due to its country of origin. Too bad for them.

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