[Sca-cooks] Malvasia (Malmsey) and Rheinfal

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Fri Jul 2 20:24:58 PDT 2010

>I come from a culture that doesn't drink alcohol, so my education in the
> finer aspects of vino is sorely lacking.  I tried the florilegium but
> didn't seem to find exactly what I wanted to know about "Malvasier"
> [Malvasia] and "Rheinfal" in the German cookbooks I have been reading.
> I'm sure someone here has thought about this before me!
> Thank you for the "Grapes" thread which pro.  A little internet searching
> has revealed that Malvasia is also called Malmsey.  Does anyone know if
> this is just a specific name in English?  What might the wine have been in
> period?

Malmsey is a wine made from Malvasia grapes and comes from a Latinized form 
of Monemvasia (Malvasia), a village in Southern Greece where the use of 
these grapes appears to originate.  Variants of the name appear in most 
languages in period and refer to wines made from Malvasia gr.apes.  Malvasia 
grapes were transplanted to Madeira where they became the basis for some of 
the fine Madeira wines.  These days, IIRC, Malmsey is usually fortified with 
brandy, while Malvasia may or may not be fortified.

> I'm guessing that Rheinfal is a type of wine that comes from the
> Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany.  Google-fu revealed many types of wine
> originate there, and that there is surprisingly a near Mediterranean micro
> climate as well in the area.  But, I still don't know what that might have
> meant in the 16th century.  Cluebats?
> Thank you,
> Katherine

The Rheinland-Pfalz (AKA Rheinland Palatinate or formerly the Palatinate 
Eloctorate) winemaking region was referred to as Rheinpfalz when I was 
there, but I understand that reference has been largely discarded.  Rather 
than the Palatinate, I think Rheinfal may actually refer to Rheinfalls in 
Switzerland (Canton of Schaffhausen), a significant district for Reislings. 
Unfortunately, my references are buried


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