Germans play well with others
Wines from the Rhine are crisp and refreshing
By Tim Protzman†email@example.com
Some days itís so easy to stay in bed.
Weíve all done it. Taken a sick day when the sickness was burnout. But sometimes the thing that makes you feel better is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
When I get burned out on wine I take that tack. No, I donít force myself to drink wine, but I do push myself to try a different grape, a varietal that I usually ignore. One I judge as ďless than noble.Ē One that usually doesnít get written up in the slick and glossy trade mags. One that if it were a story in People magazine would be about the lady who distributes winter gloves to the homeless and not about J Loís new twins.
Regular grapes, not celebrity grapes.
In my search for a grape that would relieve my wine burnout Iíve gone exotic with Eastern European and Mediterranean varietals. Iíve tasted local fare, old-fashioned North American grapes and even rice wine. But as much as these berries have brought me back on track, theyíve never had the effect that my latest immersion has. And it started on the Internet.
My colleague writes food reviews. He has a rather unusual last name. One I hadnít heard before. But I know first hand that doesnít mean there arenít scads of them out there. In my case, thereís a Protzman in every state. Some are DJs, oneís a policeman, several (including me) like wine and one has an extensive vacation resort portfolio. In my friendís case, he claims heís found not only someone with the same first and last name but ó and hereís where it gets tricky ó he claims heís found an exact copy of himself which is really him from another dimension!
Hereís how it works. In cosmology they have a theory that whenever the universe is confronted with a choice, it chooses everything. In our three-dimensional-plus space/time universe it would look like this:
I go into a wine shop to buy wine. I narrow it to a Nero díAvola and a merlot. I choose the Nero díAvola and at the exact moment I touch the bottle another universe is created where I chose the merlot! Iím laughing now because last night I bought blue bath tissue instantaneously creating a universe where I buy the white, green and pink, which must mean in these parallel worlds my rest room has a different color scheme or Iím less of a stickler for matching bath accessories.
So thatís how my friend became convinced that this Google name twin was really him from a different universe. But heís a bit of an oddball, using his proficiency in the German language to interject words like schadenfreude and weltschmerz into our lunch room conversations. Itís pretentious, but it gave me an idea. Thereíd be no new worlds created by me at the wine store ó I was going Deutsche!
To me German wineís like a friend with benefits; itís good, but just not good enough to have a full-blown relationship with. But the quality of whatís making it to this country has been improving steadily since the European Union began regulating wine laws. Now if you ask a German vintner why they make their wine a certain way youíll get an answer like, ďbecause weíve always done it that way,Ē which means itís a tradition that goes back to when the Romans brought grapes to the Rhine region and we really donít know, weíre just doing what our predecessors did.
I like German wine because itís low in alcohol, sometimes slightly sweet, which provides blessed relief from hostile tannins, and goes well with food. A good German Riesling goes well with Mexican, spicy Italian, Asian, creamy sauces and salads ó all the things that a red fights with. German wine is inexpensive, but not a lot is imported. The labels are confusing, but not indecipherable. Look for Kabinett or Spatlese. This indicates the ripeness of the grape, which translates to flavor. Remember that some wines are left to ferment all the sugar out of the wine, producing stunning flavored juice thatís not sweet.
What I had forgotten was how rich and refreshing German wines can be. They are as different to most wines as Coca Cola is to beer. And from that first sip I was reenergized and really looking forward to tasting more German wines. But first the wish list of German Juice.
I wish that more German reds were available. I wish I could taste the work of smaller producers. Iíd like to have the choice of older vintages. And I want more sekt, or sparkling German wine.
Here are some more German hotties.
ē Clean Slate Riesling ($11.99) From the Mosel region. Flavors of pear juice and clover. Slight sweetness and alcohol.
ē Jakob Demmer Spatlese Rheinhessen ($11.99) Ripe grapes. Nice honey finish.
ē Bereich Nahetal Schlink ($11.99) Auslese ripeness that means lots of sweet. Like a cotton candy treat.