What is Maibowle? A Refreshing Wine Punch from Germany!
My mother often made a Bowle when we had large party. These wine punches were a refreshing hit on warm summer afternoons in Southern California. Usually, they were made with wine, a bit of sugar, maybe some brandy, and fruit or herbal ingredients to give them more flavor. One of the more famous Bowles… a Maibowle…. But… What is Maibowle? A May Punch? What’s in it? What does it taste like? Are the ingredients available in the US? And most important… where can I get the recipe for Maibowle??
Let me try to answer all your questions here….
What is Maibowle?
Maibowle is best described as an augmented wine punch similar to Sangria. Instead of citrus, the wine is flavored with Waldmeister (Sweet Woodruff). By steeping leaves in wine the wine is imparted with a sweet herbal flavor that some people liken to sweet hay or lemon grass, others think it tastes of marzipan or almonds. My favorite description… “it tastes green”.
Traditionally, Maibowle is served on Maifest, the May Day holiday… but any time during the spring you will find it on Menus or at gatherings. It’s a simple drink to put together, and great for parties.
Learn More about Maifest HERE–> What is Maifest?
- 1 Bottle 750 ml Riesling Wine
- 1 bunch 5-10 sprigs Sweet Woodruff (Waldmeister)
- 4 tsp. Superfine Sugar if you like it sweeter
- 1 Bottle 750 ml dry Champagne
- - 4 Tbl. Brandy - preferably Asbach Uralt
- Garnish- Fresh Strawberries lemon slices, Sweet Woodruff sprigs
Begin a few hours before serving:
- Let the Sweet Woodruff lay on a plate for a few hours to wilt a bit. If you are in a hurry, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Steep the Sweet Woodruff in the Wine. Take care to keep the stem ends out of the wine. It's best to tie the stems together, then tie them to a wooden spoon laying across the bowl. 30 minutes should be enough, or the flavor may get too intense.... and you could get a headache!
- Take the Sweet Woodruff/ Waldmeister leaves out of the wine.
- Pour the Steeped wine into a Punch Bowl or Large Jug
- Add Sugar (if desired), Champagne, and Brandy (if desired)
- Stir gently
- Add some fresh strawberries- whole or slices- to the bowl.
- Serve over ice.
- You can also add sliced lemons
Quick Maibowle with Waldmeister Syrup
1/3 cup or 100 ml Waldmeistersirup
1 Bottle Dry White Wine
1 Bottle Champagne
1/3 cup or 100 ml Lemon Juice
Stir together and let chill for at least 20 minutes.
Serve over ice with a bit of lemon peel.
What is Sweet Woodruff? What is Waldmeister?
Sweet Woodruff is a green fragrant perennial that grows in shady places… this explains the German name Waldmeister, or Master of the Woods. The leaves grow out in a star or wheel pattern… and the plant produces tiny white flowers. (Actually, this is the quickest method of distinguishing Sweet Woodruff and Lupine.)
A chemical called Coumarin makes Sweet Woodruff or Waldmeister smell so delicious. Sweet Woodruff was frequently used in the Middle Ages as a Medicinal Herb for digestive issues, uterine cramps and menopause side effects. Herbalists would often pound it into a poultice to heal wounds and bruises. Also, because of it’s long lasting sweet smell, it was often stuffed into mattresses to make the bed smell better… or hung in churches as a symbol of humility. While Coumarin is mildly toxic to the kidneys, it is only in large quantities. Some especially sensitive people may experience dizziness, headaches or vomiting. If you are a migraine sufferer, you may want to go easy with Sweet Woodruff.
Buy Waldmeister/ Sweet Woodruff Plants or Seeds
Perennial Farm Marketplace Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) Groundcover, 1 Quart, White FlowersSweet Woodruff Seeds (Galium odoratum) 10+ Organic Heirloom Seeds in FROZEN SEED CAPSULES for The Gardener & Rare Seeds Collector – Plant Seeds Now or Save Seeds for Many Years
In Germany “Waldmeister Flavor” is associated with drinks, Waldmeister Jello (aka Gotterspeise), and Waldmeister syrups. It tends to be a wildly fluorescent and artificial green color (which is great for kids)…..You will also find it in a Berliner Weisse (which is great for adults).
Watch how to make Maibowle
The video is in German, but it’s easy to follow. It’s just a good way to see the technique..