As foreign as it looks and sounds, the Törggelen tradition is something we all do! In the U.S., autumn means pumpkin picking, drinking apple cider and raking leaves. In Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost wine region, fall is welcomed with Törggelen, a celebration of new wines and the harvest.
The Törggelen tradition dates back to Alto Adige’s early days of winemaking, when grapes were pressed using a wood-beam screw press called a “Torggl.” From late September to November, friends, family, herdsmen and merchants visited the wineries, tasting young wines straight from the press and enjoying a festive dinner. Like many things in the Alto Adige, Törggelen lives on as it has for centuries. Winegrowers are still throwing their doors open for guests, offering exceptional wines and farm-to-table specialties, and the locals are still exploring all that the new vintage has in store.
One thing the new vintage is sure to bring is a traditional autumnal feast including roasted chestnuts, speck (a local air-cured and smoked ham) and a schlachtplatte (literally “slaughterhouse platter”) which includes bacon, sauerkraut, sausages and knödel (dumplings), served with newly released wines. You might be surprised to see all these German names, but the Alto Adige is a multi-cultural place with traditions that straddle the border separating Italy's Alto Adige from Austria's Tyrol.
If you can’t make it to Italy this fall, get in the Törggelen spirit where ever you may be. Welcome friends and family to a harvest feast featuring hearty dishes paired with Alto Adige DOC wines. Get things started with an aromatic Gewürztraminer or crisp Pinot Bianco, before opening up a supple Pinot Nero. Go multi-cultural with creamy mushroom risotto, or try a Lagrein with a slow-cooked beef brasato. These velvety reds will warm you on a chilly day and perfectly complement hearty autumn dishes. Cap it all off with a real treat, Moscato Rosa, an aromatic, floral and liltingly divine dessert wine with a pale rose cast and seductive aromas of flowers and wild berries. It's the perfect way to end an evening and replace all the bluster and chill of a cold, dark night with the captured warmth of the past days of summer.
Whether tasting straight from the press or enjoying a bottle from a local retailer, toast autumn in good company the Alto Adige way.