The Wine Market

March 2nd 2020, by Matthias

Hello friendly reader, here is the follow-up on our article about Mister Wine, the Weinstichler.

He quickly becomes a key character when one talks about wine. To carry out his mission, the extent of which is ever greater, he will get some help from an assistant, the Knecht, as well as from guards from the Pfennigturm. He makes sure that no sale goes on under the table, once all the big barrels we call «foudres» are in place, on the day that precedes the opening of the wine market.

The next day, a Friday, another fellow makes his entrance: the Weinrufer. He is an outcry seller: he teases the passersby and sings the praises of the precious liquid. Yet, the sales take place on three different squares: the Old-Wine-Market, the Customs and the Horse-Market (Broglie square). The team is then reinforced by Unterkaeufers (assistant sellers).

The way the goods are spread all over town makes the controls harder to perform for the Weinstichler, who is often required elsewhere and whose role as a supervisor makes him the referent in case of a problem. For instance, a series of complaints will arise at some point regarding the integrity of assistant sellers. It would seem they were not turning all the perceived money in. To settle the argument between the Weinstichler and the Unterkaeufer, the wine sellers corporation will create a new job: the Sammler.

The Wine Tasters by Jan David Col

His role will be to directly collect the amount of money that is due, in the name of the corporation itself (Zunft). He wil lead a small team of Weinstichlers, divided between the different markets. The Weinstichlers will then get a token for each barrel that gets tapped. They will come to exchange those tokens against coin every Sunday, at the corporation’s headquarters (Stub).

This organization of trade in Middle-Ages reminds us of deposit tokens bought during a concert or of tickets for a white sausage at fairs and other events. Such a system of redeemable vouchers used to lower the odds of fraud and theft then would have survived from the 15th century until today.

I invite you to come back soon on our blog for new articles. Also, feel free to come discover such small stories during our guided tours around the city of Strasbourg, brilliantly brought to you by our Happy guides.