Maibowle or May Wine – German Alcoholic Drink

maibowle or may wine

Maibowle or May wine was mentioned the first time in the year 854 by the monk Wandalbertus from the German monastery Kloster Prüm, and it was used as a strengthening medical beverage for liver and heart. It also contained leaves from black currant and a vine named “Gundelrebe”.

Waldmeister is an herb that has de-cramping effects as it contains the substance Cumarin which is having an euphoric effect in high dosage, and can cause headaches and drowsiness. The vikings used Waldmeister in beer brewing, and because of its intoxicative effect is was inhibited in the 1950s. You should not drink too much of it as it can seriously cause strong headaches.

The Waldmeister plant grows to 12-20 inches long, and is often lying flat on the ground or supported by other plants. If you translate Waldmeister into English it means “Master of the Woods”. It is not only used for the Bowle but also in combination with beer and is called “Berliner Weisse”.

The English name is Sweet Woodruff. The best is to buy the plant and have it in the garden. So you can enjoy every year the Maibowle. You also could use dried sweet woodruff or syrup. The syrup is a bit difficult to find and might be imported from Germany or find it in a special German shop or on Amazon. Cheers! Prost!

Ingredients Maibowle or May Wine

500 ml white wine, dry
2 tbsp sugar, brown or white
250 ml dry Sekt (German sparkling wine)
woodruff waldmeistersweet woodruff
8 stems fresh Waldmeister (not blooming) or 1/2 cup dried or Waldmeister syrup (see below)

1 branch mint and 1 lemon balm (Zitronenmelisse)
1 smaller lemon or lime

maibowle or may wine

Instructions Maibowle or May wine

– Dissolve brown sugar in the wine.
– With some yarn bundle the woodruff, then hang the bundle together with the mint and lemon balm upside down in the wine. Make sure that only the leaves are in the wine and not the cutting side of the stems.  There’s a reason for this: The stems contains some cumarin-glycosid which is toxic in high dosages.
– Keep them in the wine for 30 min.
– Remove the bundle from the wine. If you like you can leave the mint and lemon balm.
– Do a taste test for the woodruff content. It can be intense because you are going to fill it up with sparking wine. – If the taste should be too weak, hang the stems again into the wine for another 10-15 min.

– Juice the lemon, and add it to the wine.
– Place the woodruff wine in the fridge to chill it.
– Before serving add the sparkling wine.
– Place a slice of lemon or lime into each glass and fill it up.

Add strawberries that are cut in halve.
No alcohol version: use apple juice and sparkling water instead of wine and Sekt.
Serve the bowle with fresh bread, mixed nuts or veggies and a dip.

From a Recipe of Austria
After harvesting the stems, place them on a wooden board for 1 day. This drying process sets free the typical fragrances of the herb. You could also use a dehydrator.

Find the Sweet Woodruff Seeds below
sweet woodruff

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