A Word About Schnaps

by on July 20, 2008


While I’m narrowing down my Passau offering, I thought I might distract you.  I’ve been meaning to write about Schnaps (the correct German spelling)…another delicious German cultural experience. 

Schnaps   I recognise that the tradition of imbibing a Schnaps is not uniquely German.  It is widely practiced in many European countries and each country has a certain fame for their type and style of alcohol that is similar to a Schnaps (the French and their eau-de-vie; the Italians and their Grappa).   And even as I sit here in Vienna drinking what is called a Nuss Schnaps there is a bit of a debate about the true definition.  Slice says: Oh so now you’re going to tell the Germans that Korn is not a Schnaps!  I am sure The Major in Munich or The Doc in Bad Homburg could shed some light if only they would weigh in with a comment on this blog.

As I understand it…Schnaps was introduced to the world by the Germans and with over 1000 Schnaps distilleries some of the best Schnaps come from Germany.  And it was the Monks of Germany that discovered their health benefits.

I am no expert but I have it on good authority that true Schnaps is a clear white brandy distilled from fermented fruit and bottled without sugar!  Yes…that’s right…if the Schnaps you drink is sweet…well…I am sorry to say…it is probably a liqueur…a grain-based alcohol infused with flavours (fruits, herbs, flowers, seeds or other things) and sugar is then added in the bottling process.  This is not a true Schnaps.

The best Schnaps are made from fruits like plums (Zwetchgenwasser, plum water) or pears (called Williamsbirne) or apples with pears (Obstwasser, fruit water) or cherries (Kirschwasser, cherry water).    The taste of the fruit in this alcohol is a fleeting essence…Oh ja…das ist Apfel!

Schnaps are clear and very strong (40%+ or 80 proof) and for this reason…special Schnaps glasses are employed.  A proper Schnaps glass is exactly .2 centilitres.   Don’t ask me why.  The size of the glass does not necessarily stop one from overindulging!

Nuss Schnapps

Schnaps Glasses      Schnaps Glasses

All of that said (but not for the purest) there is a definition of Schnaps that includes a wider host of alcohols made of everything from wheat and barley (Korn and it is not a Vodka), to caraway seeds (Kummel) to walnuts (Nuss Schnaps) to bitter herbs (digestif…the two most famous German brands being Jaegermeister and Underberg).

Digestif         Digestif

So when a European offers you a Schnaps the only thing that you can be certain of is this: it will be served in a small glass, after a meal and it will be strong.  And if you’ve just stuffed yourself silly with a delicious but heavy European meal…only then will you truly appreciate its medicinal value!

Tomorrow we might visit the Schnaps Museum here in Vienna to bone up on Schnaps facts!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

marjorie coggeshall July 22, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Well i Thought I should refrain from comment, here and than my friend and sister BIG Rosa tells me I can say whatever I want to so I feel the need to ask is Peppermint schnaps then a true verboten Schnaps? have you come across a drink known as Sloe Gin? SP?
and I am very interested in this lesson about the medicinal value of all these schnaps.

shan July 22, 2008 at 10:15 pm

and anyone who has ever overindulged in the jaegermeister, will tell you, it really, really hurts.my best sister bren and i have had many fun nights with friends, in anch. drinking jaeger, and heiffeweissen(spelling ?)(wheat beers). YAHOO!!!

rmw July 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Great presentation. Amazed at your depth of research, most impressive.
The “girls” obviously have fond memories of all things Schnaps, etc.
This blog should be on display on a major .

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