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Valley of the Moselle
The Doctor's wine of Bernkastel
The wine of Bernkastel is called "Doctor's wine", or even shorter still, "Doctor," and it has been known by this singular name for more than five hundred years.
About the middle of the fourteenth century Bishop Bohemund lay ill of a very violent fever at Bernkastel. The worthy man was obliged to swallow many a bitter pill and many a sour drink, but all without avail. The poor divine began at last to fear the worst. Despite his high calling and his earnest search after holy things, his bishopric on the lovely Moselle pleased him better than any seat in heaven. He caused it to be proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of his diocese, that whoever should be able to cure him of this terrible fever, be he layman or learned doctor, should receive his pastoral blessing, and a rich present into the bargain.
At that very time, a brave old warrior lived at Treves, who heard about the suffering bishop and hat pity on him in his great need.
Moreover this gray-haired veteran, whose name has not come down to posterity, was very much indebted to the bishop, for once, many years before, Bohemund had saved him from the hands of the enemy in a skirmish near Sponheim.
The noble old soldier was much distressed to hear that the holy man was suffering so terribly. He remembered too, that once he himself had been attacked by violent fever and had fought hard with death, and that his friends had talked about pills and certain bitter drinks, but he had sent them all away and had called his servant, desiring him to bring him a good bowl of fiery Bernkastler wine. When he had taken a hearty drink, – no small matter for one lying ill of fever – he awoke out of deep sleep twelve hours later, the fever completely gone.
Why should not this same Bernkastler cure, thought he, have the same effect on the worthy prelate?
After considering for a time, the old knight set out quite alone from his castle in the forest of Soon to visit his spiritual benefactor, taking only a little cask with him.
Bohemund, lying on his sick bed, is said to have cast a very suspicious look at the good man who stated that he could cure him, but who carried all his medicines and mixtures in a little cask on his shoulder. The knight however, making a sign to the officious ,servants ;and attendants to leave the chamber, informed the reverend gentleman of what he was about to do. He then calmly took the plug out of the cask, and gave the sick man a drink of the sparkling wine which he had brought with him.
The bishop readily swallowed the wine at one draught. Another was administered to him soon after, and the eminent prelate fell into a deep sleep.
The next day the people of Treves heard with great joy that the fever had completely disappeared.
The bishop on awaking took another stout draught,
sang out of the depths of his grateful heart: –
Sure, 'tis a splendid doctor." Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine