Cinderella never had it so good. Wining and dining in Germany's enchanting castles takes you on a culinary adventure along the pictorial Rhine River.
Offering a panorama over the vineyards and old town of Ruedesheim, Castle Ruedesheim offers regional products in its Hessian cuisine. Taste goulash of wild boar with German noodles, or Riesling-cheese soup with spinach. The wine cellar contains nearly 300 Rheingau wines with every vintage since 1929 represented. Take a tour of the castle's Georg Breuer label wine-growing estate and sample a variety of Riesling wines afterward.
Surrounded by a natural reserve, Hotel Jagdschloss Niederwald was a feudal estate of Ehrenfels Castle in the 15th and 16th centuries. Nowadays, the castle's elegant restaurant sources free range and organic ingredients from local suppliers. Sample goose with red cabbage, chestnuts and potato dumplings, along with an Assmanshauser red or noble Riesling.
At the 50th degree latitude—the most northern border for growing vines—Castle Johannisberg is famous for its sparkling wine, Fuerst Metternich. On a slope on the Rhine's north bank, you'll find Schloss Johannisberg which dates back to the days of Charlemagne. The grape variety Riesling was first planted here in 1720, making Schloss Johannisberg the oldest Riesling vineyard in the world. Even Napoleon didn't overlook the winery, acquiring the property in 1802. Today the 80-acre estate lays claim to one of the most comprehensive Riesling libraries in the world, with vintages dating to 1748.
Surrounded by vineyards, meadows and hiking paths high above the medieval town of Oberwesel, Castle Schoenburg dishes up pike balls Baden-style with foamy crayfish sauce, or meatballs in a white caper sauce, accompanied by select wines. Finish off with an iced black forest cherry tart. When weather permits, dine on the castle's romantic Rhineview terrace.
Boasting an impressive wine cellar, Cologne's Castle Hotel Lerbach is home to Restaurant Dieter Mueller, a Relais et Chateaux Gourmand, the association's highest rating. The structure's records date to May 1384 when Lerbach Castle, named after the stream that still runs through the surrounding 70-acre park, passed into the ownership of a knight. Today, the Michelin three-star Chef Mueller is said to be one of the best in Germany with his innovative marriage of classic French and Mediterranean cuisine. He tempts the palate with spiced breast of duck with a sauce of lavender, blini of corn, broccoli and purée of cauliflower. Throughout the year, Mueller conducts cooking courses for "ambitious hobby cooks."