When night falls, the Munich Christmas market opens its doors on Monday on Marienplatz. Judge Anne-Kristin Fricke already preheated the topic last week: Under the motto “Wine or not wine”, the 17th Chamber for Commercial Matters of the Munich I Regional Court decided that a Saxon brewery its “Glühbo”, according to its own statements “the only one brewed mulled wine of the world” cannot call mulled wine. Because the term “wine” would literally be “watered down” in the composition offered, the chamber judged.
Perhaps there is also an EU regulation on the permitted curvature of the wings of Christmas tree angels, but there is definitely one about what is allowed in a mulled wine. In fact, in 2014, the European Parliament passed a 14-page regulation on ingredients “on the definition, description, presentation and labeling of aromatised wine products”. And these are three of them: wine, sweetener and spice. Point.
Now it happened that a brewery in the small Saxon community of Hartmannsdorf came up with the “Glühbo”: A “brewed mulled wine”, also available in mint and lime versions, filled in a 0.245 liter bottle. You can warm it up in a water bath, put it in the heat cover that can also be ordered and enjoy it hot. The mulled wine gets its “unique taste” from the addition of bock beer wort. A winery from Dasing in Swabia did not celebrate this brew in heavenly jubilation – they went to court.
Civil courts have to deal with all sorts of things, with the decibel level of leaf vacuums or the penetrance of garden gnomes set up in droves. The 17th chamber, which is responsible for the law against unfair competition, was able to delve deep into the topic of bock beer wort. She had invited an oenologist who is familiar with cellar technology and viticulture, among other things. He explained that the bock beer wort is not a spice in the traditional sense, “but a liquid that receives spices”. Beer wort in general has nothing to do with a spice or sweetener. The bock beer wort in particular is not a highly concentrated substance, which is why the addition of water in the drinks from Saxony is “considerable”.
Viewed soberly, the court found that the consumer was “misled”. Because with the bock beer wort, “an additional water content of two percent gets into the defendant’s drinks”. This is inadmissible for a product called mulled wine. Judge Anne-Kristin Fricke explained that the water content in mulled wine is subject to strict requirements: “Water is only permitted for sweetening or adding spices, in as small quantities as possible.” However, the Hartmannsdorf brewery did not comply with these specifications. The “Glühbo” is used to make the lively Christmas pre-glower believe that the traditional mulled wine does not have the properties due to the high water content.
The court did not have to decide whether the consumer would still notice this after enjoying several “Glühbos” with an alcohol percentage of 9.8. The judgment is not final. Nevertheless, the mulled wine season can begin.