May Wine Makes the Grade

Among a list of wines, numerous of high repute, discussed in my last post there was a puzzling entry for “strawberry blonde”. Much as I would like it to be a beer, I don’t think it was. I’ve already been disabused of the notion “steinwein” was a beer – see the comments to the last post.

What was it then? I think it was “Mai-trank”, May wine. This is an aromatized mixture of wines traditional in Germany and some other lands. Sweet woodruff is a keynote.

A 1905 piece in the New York Sun explains that May wine is the colour of a blue-eyed Swabian blonde, and that strawberries are sometimes added. It also states, which clinches it in my mind, that woodruff was grown in Staten Island, NY.

Oh, the beefsteak dinner was held in May, 1878.

Below is a picture of a May wine. It looks exactly the hue mentioned in the Sun’s story, and if strawberries are added, well it’s “strawberry blonde”. Case closed, yes?

McAllister’s Four Hundred, and aspirants thereto, didn’t do beer I guess. Or perhaps it was assumed that prevailing customs of the menu’s presumed inspiration, the London Beefsteak Club, did not countenance beer at formal dinners.

But I’d as soon found a beer on that menu…

Note re image: the image above was sourced from this Ardennes tourist website, here. Image is used for educational and historical purposes. All intellectual property therein or thereto belongs solely to its owner or authorized users, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.