Wayne in the Cave Historique
Yesterday's visit to wine country put us in the mood to find out more about local wines at the Cave Historique Hospices Strasbourg. This wine cave is in the medieval basements of the city hospital in Petite France. The caves date from 1395 when poor patients would pay for hospital services with wine. In return wealthy patients would receive the wine as part of their therapeutic treatment. Today there are more than 40 ancient barrels in the museum cave, one of which is filled with wine from 1472, one of the oldest in the world. Some of the barrels are beautifully carved with interesting histories. One barrel was owned by King Louis XV, another was a wedding gift that never was used. Today selected Alsatian wines are given permission to mature in the cave's barrels, bottled on the spot and sold. All profits from the sales go toward the hospital's operating expenses.
Writing about the hospital in Petite France reminded me of a fact we learned on the Batorama tour. The name Petite France came about when French soldiers with syphilis were sent to the "hospice of the syphilitic" on the island. The local Germans called it the "French Disease" to stop the local girls from sleeping with the soldiers. Thus, the area of the hospice became known as Little France, more out of derision than patriotism. The name stuck and today is one of the most expensive areas of the city.
Tomorrow we leave beautiful Strasbourg for Switzerland. Stay tuned. Pictures of the day at flickr.