TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Wine Rambler Articles

While the Wine Rambler homepage displays all new content in chronological order, this section has just the blog posts (i.e. not the reviews of individual wines).

Posted by Torsten 30 Jun 2013

Earlier this year I published an open letter to Waitrose that within hours became our most widely read, tweeted about and "liked" article of the year. I had criticised Waitrose for stocking a wine that pretends to be "one of the most renowned wines of Germany" and yet is only a generic blend that may not even be from the Mosel village whose name it displays on the label. I had always seen Waitrose as a retailer that champions German wine and so I was disappointed when I discovered the so called "Legends of Germany".

Since the publication of the article Waitrose have gotten back to me with a response.

Posted by Julian 10 Jun 2013

We had heard a shy young Franconian winemaker talking about finding his own way, a sage dispensing Riesling wisdom, and the hulking star of the river Saar warn us of his own wines. But in spite of our heads beginning to spin, our palates starting to give out, and the lure of Dallmayr's fine sausages, cheeses and chocolates pulling us away, we had not yet heard enough...

Sample size issue?Sample size issue?

In case you missed the first part of this report about Winzerelite ("wine growing elite"), the annual spring tasting hosted by posh Munich wine and fine food store Dallmayr, in which we were talking.... No we weren't, really. We resolved to, this once, fulfil our journalistic calling and let winegrowers do the talking. One wine each, and whatever they wanted to tell us about it and what choices they made in making it - those were the rules.

Posted by Julian 12 May 2013

Two years ago, I reminisced about student days and staircases. Last year, I got all corduroy trousers and turtleneck sweater about the term "elite". Somewhat disappointingly, this has not stopped Dallmayr, the renowned Munich delicatessen store, from again using the name Winzerelite (wine making elite) for their annual spring tasting of German and Austrian estates. Clearly, we needed to try another tack with Dallmayr, who this year actually invited us to attend as - imaging our proudly beaming faces - press. From a friendly chat with Dallmayr's public relations guy, we gathered that they were happy to have bloggers spread the word, but not yet sure how to understand their reach compared to print journalism. Not a scepticism that you often hear in the English-speaking wine world these days, but we were happy to rise to the occasion: a new journalistic approach was clearly called for here.

pouring forthpouring forth

We decided not to come along with a preconceived set of questions but to actually let the winemakers steer the conversation. We asked the men and women manning the stalls to pour us just one wine, their most important one. That should not have to be the most expensive one, nor necessarily the best, we insisted, but simply the one most worth talking about. And then we tasted, and we listened.

Posted by Torsten 10 Apr 2013

Natural wine is "in", no doubt. It fits the Zeitgeist of minimal intervention, non-industrial, organic, "honest" produce that is increasingly sought after by consumers. And yet there is also confusion. When I announced I was going to a natural wine fair I received lots of blank stares and the odd question of "you mean organic and stuff?" or "as opposed to unnatural wine?". That confusion partly comes from the fact that there is no generally accepted, legally binding definition so any wine can be marketed as "natural"; personally I also find some proponents of the movement a little overzealous. On the other hand I value sustainable winemaking and seek out artisan wines for individuality and character.

focus on natural winefocus on natural wine

In short, I am both tempted and confused by natural wine, so last month's Real Wine Fair was a timely chance to explore the field and question my attitude. Or, to get into the musical theme of this post, "It's only natural / That I should want to / Be there with you."

Posted by Torsten 12 Mar 2013

Dear Waitrose,

You are not like every other supermarket. You were the first to sell organic food in the UK. You have a royal warrant to supply the Queen. You are owned by your employees. And through your wine business you have won much respect, including mine.

That is until you sold me a bottle of "Piesporter Michelsberg" under the label of "Legends of Germany" as "one of the most renowned wines of Germany". Admittedly, this has not the same shocking ring to it as labelling horsemeat as beef, nor is it a health risk or illegal. And yet you are misleading your customers, thereby damaging the image of a product you and others have worked hard to restore to former glory: German wine.

Posted by Torsten 18 Feb 2013

There are several philosophies about kids growing up to into mature adults, but the successful ones tend to include the Muppet Show. And as our readers naturally are mature adults I can take it for granted that you will know the Swedish Chef. As do I, of course. Apart from where I don't: in the dubbed German Muppets version I grew up with he is actually Danish. Confused as we may be in that regard, us Germans have loved Scandinavian food way before the success of Noma. And Scandinavians, it turns out, love to pair their food with German wine.

Scandinavian delights with Signe and HannahScandinavian delights with Signe and Hannah

Scandinavia is a very important export market for German wine and earlier this month I received a tasty demonstration of how well our friend Riesling in particular pairs with northern cuisine.

Posted by Torsten 27 Jan 2013

Do you know who you are? We do! Should you ever have an identity crisis please do come back to this post for some reasurance regarding your identity. Now, before you get all excited and ask where you can join our new cult group I should probably qualify that: we do not know who you personally might be, but we know a little something about you collectively. And that is because we Wine Ramblers, like many others who run websites, do occasionally analyse visitor statistics.

If today you came here to find inspiration about German (or other) wine I must disappoint you, but if you are curious about who else came to us for ramblings in 2012 please do read on.

Posted by Torsten 17 Jan 2013

In 2009 for a short moment I was cool. You might have been too, without knowing it. Back then we had street cred - just by drinking Riesling. No, I am not insane, nor did I have too much Riesling tonight. In 2009 middle-class wine geeks had a moment of cool when Jay-Z put the following words into the mouths of millions: "I'm beasting off the Riesling!" Twitter was full of references to Riesling, mostly from cool kids who sounded like they'd never before heard of it. Just one line, but much more effective than any marketing campaign - I have brought this up in every discussion on how to raise the profile of German wine since.

Around that time I did consider to take inspiration from Jay-Z and play around with video and perhaps music on the Wine Rambler to reach audiences that might never care about wine writing. Sadly or perhaps luckily, my musical talent is limited and co-Rambler Julian (who actually has some) refuses to even go near a video recording device. Three years later, Wines of Germany USA have, in a way, taken up my advice and produced what may be the world's first Riesling rap song: Must be Seduktion. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 03 Jan 2013

Vineyards in northern Yorkshire, dentists, wine museums without wine, finding the pink soul of Riesling, drinking some of the best and worst wines of Germany, finishing unfinished business in Washington, almost enjoying fermentation, sex and murder - it is hard to think of something 2012 did not have on the cards for us.

the colours of winethe colours of wine

So before the New Year really starts it is time to look back over a year of wine rambling and pick up a few of the high- and lowlights.

Posted by Julian 31 Dec 2012

We could not leave the waning year behind without giving you the official shortlist you've all been nervously waiting for. Just to make sure you don't get the wrong impression: This is a highly subjective parade. It's ours alone, and it's in no way a comprehensive ranking. The following are simply those that impressed and delighted us most out of the minuscule drop of German Wine ocean that we happen to have sampled over the past year. It so happens that all of them were from past vintages, rather than fresh out of the 2011 barrels, but again, that is in no way a judgement on the qualities (or lack thereof) of the current vintage.