AskDefine | Define Liebfraumilch

Dictionary Definition

liebfraumilch n : a sweetened Rhenish wine (especially one from Hesse in western Germany)

Extensive Definition

Liebfraumilch or Liebfrauenmilch is a style of semi-sweet white German wine which may be produced in the regions Rheinhessen, Palatinate, Rheingau and Nahe. The name is a German word literally meaning "Beloved lady's milk". The original German spelling of the word is Liebfrauenmilch, given to the wine produced from the vineyards of the Liebfrauenkirche or Church of Our Lady in the Rhineland-Palatinate city of Worms since the 18th century. The spelling Liebfraumilch is more common on labels of exported wine.
Liebfrauenmilch originally was a high quality hock of very limited distribution. The Valckenberg wine company sells their wine produced in the original vineyard, "Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück", under the name "MADONNA Liebfraumilch", although ironically it is not legally a Liebfraumilch, but rather a QmP. The generic label Liebfraumilch is used to market vintages from anywhere in the Rheinhessen/Nahe area. In Germany this wine is sold as low-priced supermarket wine due to the perceived campiness of its label and because its characteristics do not make it a good companion to modern cuisine. Wine with very similar characteristics but made from higher quality grapes is labeled as Spätlese or Auslese from their appropriate regions.
Peter Josef Valckenberg, a Dutch immigrant started a wine export firm in Worms in 1786. In 1808, he acquired the monastery vineyards from the French occupation forces. His family then developed and dominated the German export market. It remains a major company.
In the U.S. and the UK, perhaps the best known example has been Blue Nun, which no longer uses the Liebfraumilch designation. While the term is associated with low quality wine, Liebfraumilch is defined by the German Wine Law as one step above the lowest category, Tafelwein (table wine). However, in Germany the Liebfraunmilch label is often seen as symbolic of a string of marketing failures and scandals that have damaged the public image of German wine in the past.
The MADONNA Liebfraumilch is featured in the Germany part of Disney's Epcot in the Vine Kellar (Wine Cellar).
Liebfraumilch in German: Liebfrauenmilch
Liebfraumilch in Dutch: Liebfraumilch
Liebfraumilch in Japanese: リープフラウミルヒ
Liebfraumilch in Swedish: Liebfraumilch
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