A taste of Germany.

Beer and bratwurst are of course an integral part of the country's festivals and public holidays. But they're just one small part of all the pleasures on offer. Take yourself on a culinary tour of discovery through Germany. You'll be amazed at the diversity of delicacies and taste experiences you'll encounter.

Riesling is the dominant grape variety in the Hessen winegrowing areas of Rheingau and Bergstrasse. First mentioned in around 1500, its complex aromatics and lively acidity have given it the title 'king of German wines'. In 1775, the first late vintage was created on the Johannisberg Estate in the Rheingau, where, according to legend, the grape harvest was delayed by the late arrival of a horseback messenger.

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In 1912 Alfred Eugene Ritter and his wife Clara founded a chocolate and confectionery factory in Bad Cannstatt in Stuttgart . In 1932 Clara created a chocolate bar that would slide easily into every man's jacket pocket and weighed the same as a normal longer bar. Since then, the square format has become recognised the world over as the unique shape of the chocolate from Baden-Württemberg. Today the firm's HQ in Waldenbuch houses a chocolate exhibition, 'chocoworkshop' and a collection of square-shaped artworks.

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Once the signature drink of the Frisians, pharisäer is now enjoyed right across Schleswig-Holstein. This hot coffee mixed with rum and sugar and topped with whipped cream is just the answer on a cold day. It originated from the North Sea island of Nordstrand in the mid-19th century. Just as popular, if not more so, is Heligoland's eiergrog , a hot drink of egg yolk, sugar, rum and water. While some warn it will knock the socks off even the strongest mariner, others think it's simply delicious. Either way, raise your glasses and say prost !

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Lüneburg Heath is one of Europe's most famous regions and its food and drink are equally celebrated. As well as potatoes, asparagus and honey, the tender, venison-like meat of the Heidschnucke heathland sheep is particularly valued by gourmets. The sheep are a very old breed specially adapted to the moorland conditions of the heath. Their meat enjoys Protected Designation of Origin status in Europe.

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Whether from a jar or fresh out of the barrel, and whether pickled with herbs, mustard, garlic or peppers, Spreewald gherkins are a hearty snack for any time of the day. On the Gherkin Cycle Route, which runs for approximately 260 kilometres, you can follow the whole production process from field to fork – and discover all the mouthwatering varieties. But not all the details will be revealed. Carefully guarded family recipes hold the secrets to their distinctive flavour.

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The Frankfurter Kranz cake is a ring-shaped cake made from several layers of sponge and covered in buttercream. It symbolises Frankfurt 's former status as a 'coronation city'. Its shape, golden brittle coating and ruby-red glacé cherries all combine to suggest a kaiser's crown. First mentioned in 1735, even today it's a treat that is frequently enjoyed with afternoon coffee.

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A highlight of the Erzgebirge Christmas is the traditional Christmas Eve feast known as the neunerlei . It comprises nine courses symbolising memories, hopes and what you've achieved during the year. Dishes might consist of lentils or peas, bratwurst with sauerkraut , herring or pieces of fish with apple salad, potato salad with sausages, groats, millet porridge or rosehip soup, roast pork with dumplings, bread and salt, prunes and a bread and milk mixture prepared with chopped nuts.

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Almost as much as bread, the pretzel (or brezel ) embodies the very essence of German baking. Many myths surround its origins. One legend has it that the Swabian pretzel was invented over 500 years ago in Bad Urach on the edge of the Swabian Alb. The baker at the ducal residence there had fallen from grace and was awaiting his execution. The duke granted him one last chance, promising to spare his life if he baked a bread through which the sun could shine three times. The baker escaped death by producing the pretzel. Find out more at the Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm.

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