French red wine sold as "Lübecker Rotspon" raises puzzles

The beginning of Lübecks red-wine-trade dates back to the 13th century. At that time, the first hanseatic ships, called "Koggen", sailed to the French west coast in order to buy Bordeaux-wines. However, it was not sooner than in 1530 that the red-wine-trade gained importance when the merchant Thomas Bugenhage imported larger quantities of red-wine to Lübeck. He is said to have ordered his cellar master to allow the wine to mature, so that its good properties may fully develop and make the drinker happy and sociable instead of loud and boisterous.

Since that time and especially from the 17th century French red-wine is brought to Lübeck for getting 'refined and cultivated'. The surprising improvement of quality as consequence of being stored in Lübeck's wine-cellars was first perceived in 1806 by French officers. After Napoleon's army had occupied the city of Lübeck, the officers noticed that the Bordeaux wines stored in Lübeck's wine-cellars tasted much better than the red-wines at home.

Afterwards it was decided to investigate the matter thoroughly. Several wine-casks were filled at Bordeaux, all with the same wine. Some of these casks were left at Bordeaux, the others were brought to Lübeck and stored there. After an adequate period of time of maturing and storage, it became obvious, that the French officers had not been mistaken. Untill today an explanation could not be found. It can only be guessed that the Lübecks climate together with the temperature in the wine-cellars has a better effect on the wine than that at Bordeaux.

Now, where does the name 'Rotspon' come from? 'Spon' is the Low German expression of the word 'Span' which means a wooden chip. So the word 'Rotspon' originally meant red-wine having been stored in a wooden cask.

With his humorous verses the Mecklenbourgian dialectal-poet Fritz Reuter being himself a friend of the Lübecker Rotspon, contributed to make the name Rotspon well known all over Germany.

Like Lübecker Marzipan the Lübecker Rotspon stands for high quality.