After having tasted some of the best Germany has to offer this month, the Wine Rambler now jumps right back into the range of the cheapest German supermarket wine available in the UK. Today it is the dreaded Liebfraumilch wine again, this time 'selected by ASDA', the UK arm of retail giant Walmart. As all good and ethical shoppers know, ASDA is evil. However, we do still seem to go there because the temptation of the Cheap is strong. In a way, this wine is very similar: like evil, once you have tasted some, you find it hard to stop.
This page lists reviews of wines from the above price range.
Having written about Liebfraumilch previously, I will keep this introduction short. What once was the name for a highly sought after German wine has since become a label for plonk - a mildly sweet wine, produced as cheaply as possible from vineyards all over German wine growing regions. It is very popular in the English market and sells in bulk.
I bought mine for £3.06 from Sainsburys as part of a blind tasting experiment in cheap German wine. And was a little surprised.
Piesport is the name of a wine growing village in Germany. On steep hills along the Mosel, some of Germany's best Riesling is grown. "Piesporter Michelsberg", however, only indicates that the wine comes from grapes grown somewhere in the area. It is a designation no quality producer with a good vineyard there would use, so when you find it on a label you are most likely looking at a mass-produced wine that will probably not even contain grapes grown in Piesport itself.
I bought my Michelsberg for £3.99 from Sainsburys as part of a blind tasting experiment in cheap German wine. How did it fair?
Fear not, I am not on a diet. I just happened to find this tiny (25cl) bottle of WeightWatchers fruity white wine, made by a German producer from grapes from the Mosel and the Rhine. So what has Britain's cheapest supermarket in store for those of you who are on a diet (and are ready to spend £1.44)?
Decent colour, light gold, very clear, light. So far so good. The nose is a little sharp, apple with a tiny tiny hint of pear; think light apple vinegar or at least really sharp green apple. On the palate lemon/apple acidity, pear and something almost buttery nutty in the finish. While this sounds good in theory, none of the flavours is very distinct. The combination is bland and not very well balanced. The wine lacks depth and I found the nose and bitterness a little off-putting.
When you find a bulky black bottle that looks like it holds Black Forest schnapps or some unspeakable cod liver oil in your supermarket, it will almost certainly be a German wine: Black Tower, a brand designed for the UK mass market. Perhaps it makes the Brits think of German Gemütlichkeit of the rustic type.
I was actually after the Black Tower Liebfraumilch, but as I could not find it I went for this Rivaner for £3.88 instead (Rivaner, btw, is another name for the grape variety Müller-Thurgau, if you wondered).
Keen to learn what British women in their twenties want to drink? Get a bottle of Blue Nun. You will also learn that you might not want to spend too many 'Heavenly Nights In' or 'Wicked Nights Out' (to quote the Blue Nun website) drinking with the Blue Nun girls. Well, you might want to, but then it better be not only about the wine.
So here we are. The infamous, dreaded Liebfraumilch. One day it had to happen. And that day is now. In the really olden days, Liebfraumilch (beloved Lady's milk) was a label for low yield, high quality wines from the city of Worms (Rheinhessen). It was a highly sought after example of German wine making.
Now it can be put on pretty much any vaguely sweet wine from the Rheinhessen area of Germany that is made from grape varieties such as Riesling or, mostly, Müller-Thurgau. Sweet, cheap (£2.82 in this instance) and not very cheerful, these wines do now represent German wine in the UK - at least for a majority of customers. So it seemed the logical choice to turn to Liebfraumilch for the first wine in what may become a regular Wine Rambler category: supermarket wine.