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 Julian 16 May 2012

When, every spring, Munich's premier delicatessen store announces an evening of elite wines (and snacks), who am I not to get in line, this time very pleased to be accompanied by Wine Rambler tasting associates Benita and Conny (the latter also photographer for this piece). In last year's report, we walked you through the different wineries' collections in some detail, but I also threatened that I would have a few more general thoughts on the concept of Winzerelite (elite of the winemakers) that Dallmayr has adopted. Why does this make me so deeply uneasy, when it seems so straightforward: The elite is formed by the very best, and who the best are can be established in regular tastings, by journalists, fine wine merchants, and wine guides. Together, they form an elite of sorts, as would athletes, or writers, or scientist or musicians.

Is this an elite rosé?Is this an elite rosé?

The great German social theorist Niklas Luhmann famously proposed that we organize our world in systems, such as love, business, political power and jurisdiction. When they get mixed up, when we try to buy love, or put pressure on a judge, or bribe a politician, our social world is bent out of shape and balance. And here's the problem: Invariably, they get mixed up. So it goes with the idea of an elite.

Posted by Torsten 30 Apr 2012

For a long time I thought wine needs no visuals. In the early days of the Wine Rambler we did not even have photos on the blog. After all, what use is it to see the label when all you need to know is inside the bottle - and surely that is better captured in words? Well, I was wrong. Wine is more than just taste. Amongst other things it is also image - an image created by, amongst others, wine photographers. Today we have one of them, Andreas Durst - who is also a winemaker -, explain why he feels that wine photography is failing, stuck in old clichés that always were a lie. Enjoy, and learn.

What's wrong with commercial wine photography? A photographic guest ramble by Andreas Durst

Wine glass glistening, autumnal gold on sloped vineyards, the winegrower wandering the vines in his Sunday best - or, another favourite image, we see him with glass in hand, tasting wine by romantically flickering cellar candlelight.
Wine photography as Heimatfilm - a cheap, sentimental romance.

traditional wine photography, copyright  www.yoopress.comtraditional wine photography, copyright www.yoopress.com

This image is old hat, and even in the olden days of winemaking it would have been far from realistic. Winemaking means work, hard work. However, these hoary old clichés, even today, continue to dominate our image of wine and of the people who make it.

Posted by Julian 12 Apr 2012

Tasting wines blind can be cruel. I wonder if Rober Parker Jr. or Jancis Robinson have been there before - that red-faced moment when you realise that what you thought was, say, the 1990 Médoc was in fact the 2001 Lemberger from Württemberg, that where you thought you were on the safe side, you've been as wrong about the identity of two wines as you can possibly be. That sinking feeling. That barely disguised glee in the eyes of the other participants, who knew all along. If so, cheer up, Robert and Jancis, we've been there as well. If you have followed our blind tasting adventures so far, you may get the impression that we have an uncanny tendency to end up there as soon as the paper bags come off, but if so, we do all this in the spirit of selfless sacrifice and journalistic objectivity.

But let's take a step back from the brink of embarassment, and meet the two colour-coded contestants henceforth to be known as Green and Blue. Here is what we knew: One was a classic, somewhat pricey bottle of the very finest English sparkling, provided by London Wine Rambler Torsten, who may be the German-speaking world's most tireless advocate for English Sparklers. The other was a bottle of Vouvray Brut for a mere third of that price, and with absolutely nothing to lose. Not much hope for the underdog, was there?

Posted by Torsten 19 Mar 2012

You don't go to South East London. At least that is what my friend Sarah thinks, and yesterday she told me so when the question of where to live in London came up. After having lived in the South West, North and West Sarah now contemplates the East - but the South East just seems too far away, like another world. This is a common view in the murky blend of London post codes and identities. It is opposed by a smaller group of those who have lost their hearts to SE London, and they tell me of vibrant local communities with quirky shops, excellent and authentic food offerings and a satisfying restaurant scene. The other day I followed an invitation to explore this world at the East Dulwich wine shop and bar Green & Blue Wines.

midnight approaching at Green & Blue Winesmidnight approaching at Green & Blue Wines

It is no coincidence that I used the words "authentic" and "local", as Green & Blue champion wines from smaller producers, especially organic and natural wines.

Posted by Torsten 29 Feb 2012

We got drunk on that stuff as students because we didn't know any better and had no money. That is not what I would say, at least not in public, but it summarises how many British acquaintances refer to German wine - in particular the dreaded Liebfraumilch. German wine is associated with sweet, and sweet with bad. The British wine trade tend to love Riesling, dry or sweet, and some also appreciate German Pinot Noir. This is usually where the knowledge ends though. There are even "wine experts" who say Germany should not move away from the sweeter style of Riesling - whereas the reality is that the German wine industry has become so diverse it has long gone beyond that. German dry wines are now so varied as would confuse even the most sober foreign beholder.

Last week the German Wine Agencies, a new distributor of German wines in the British market, invited members of the trade to be confused (and to leave everything else but sober, one would hope) by German wines.

Posted by Torsten 17 Feb 2012

For many years I have been a happy and loyal Dell customer, using Dell machines at home and at work. Those were the days when my Dell PCs were trusty. Those were the days when I associated Dell with good service. Those were the days when I recommended Dell to friends, colleagues and contacts. Well, those good old times are over as the Dell I bought last summer is still not working properly, and more importantly as Dell have stopped responding to my emails.

This is not a wine-related topic, but as three Dell computers were used to initially build and now to maintain the Wine Rambler I have decided to ramble about how a small problem was made big by a service failure.

Posted by Torsten 02 Feb 2012

We all have our dreams. The Wine Ramblers sometimes imagine casually telling a guest who has just praised the marvellous Riesling we served them that it came from our own vineyard. While many have this dream (different varietal perhaps), only media celebrities ever seem to realise it. After all, you cannot just grow vines in your back garden. Or so I thought. Until I came across Steve Race. Steve has done exactly that - planting vines in an allotment in Yorkshire, of all places, and making his own wine.

Fifty-Four North VineyardFifty-Four North Vineyard

In this guest ramble, Steve shares some of his experiences with home wine growing and making, first in England, now in Spain. Enjoy, and learn.

Posted by Julian 23 Jan 2012

This new year, as every January, a good many people decided to lay of alcohol for a few weeks and cleanse their bodies of its joyful, but unhealthy effects. But this time, the numerous "detox"-tweets were countered by, a spirited innovation, those advocating a rigorous programme of "retox". As it happens, the authors of this blog are also divided on this topic: One Wine Rambler will have nothing of it, while the second is writing these very words with a cup of peppermint tea before him.

Carnival (detail), by Pieter Brueghel the youngerCarnival (detail), by Pieter Brueghel the younger

That alone is nothing to write home about, after all, we differ on all kinds of things, wine or non-wine. But it did give me the idea for what follows, namely the attempt to probe the subject a little more deeply than the tweet and counter-tweet format allows for. Read on for some thoughts on lent, puritanism and the boredom of plenty.

Posted by Torsten 07 Jan 2012

I am sitting at home, drinking beer. Gillian Welch sings of "Tennessee". The computer post-processes photos. It could be a normal evening at the Wine Rambler's London HQ, if it had not become rather unusual for me to drink beer at home. And rather unusual is also the beer that I am drinking - a beer that, at an age when many wines have turned to vinegar, is still more than drinkable.

In fact, there are two stories fermented into this 1994 Chimay. And both are stories of loss.

Posted by Julian 02 Jan 2012

While sifting through the candidates for this year's Wine Rambler shortlist, we noticed hat we were less generous with top ratings in 2011 than previously, withholding our highest praise, "monumental", completely. Whether that means we are becoming more exacting in our critical standards or whether the truly stellar wines somehow passed us by and we had to make do with the enormously good we can't quite say. A bit of both, most probably.

Please do not throw the Wine Rambler's favourite wines. Drink them!Please do not throw the Wine Rambler's favourite wines. Drink them!

As you may not want to take our word for it in every case (and indeed you shouldn't!), we have provided direct links to the wineries' websites for the adventurous among you to follow up, get into contact and inquire about distribution and availability. Almost all German wineries do their own shipping and are quite good at it. In case of deliveries to the UK, however, newly estranged from the European mainland, this will probably have to be arranged via the United Nations. Just joking. Needless to say, The Wine Rambler is entirely his own man, as it were, and not commercially associated with any wineries or merchants, although wines like the following sometimes can make us wish we were.