‘When you think of all the wonderful things that come from Germany (cars, beer, contribution to music), wine is not one of the first things that pop out of your head’ commented Mr. Michael Siebert, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany inaugurating the wine tasting event at Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai on 22nd Oct 2013.
The Indo-German Chamber of Commerce had organized a delegation of German companies from the wine and spirits industry to visit India from 21st to 25th October 2013.The German participants were interested in meeting Indian industry representatives regarding market entry and expansion plans. Mr. Peter Deubet, the Deputy Director General of the Indo German Chamber of Commerce welcomed the gathering.
The event was certainly an eye-opener for me as the general impression I had was that “Riesling” was synonymous with “sweet”. I was also curious to know how well people in India really knew German wines and their unique features.
I didn’t know that besides Riesling, the other most planted grape was the Spätburgunder - known to most of us as Pinot Noir. I got to know that Riesling known for its great balance of natural acidity and sugar, has taken a paradigm shift to being a ‘dry’ wine (trocken). I also didn’t know that South East Asia is slowly becoming Germany's biggest customer for both Riesling and Pinot Noir, with German wines being paired with Cantonese dim sum & coconut-based dishes.
Understanding German wine seemed a wee bit complex. It's not as heavily marketed like the rest of the wines from France, Tuscany, or Argentina. But what most people may not know is that Germany is one of the top producers of elegant white wines in the world.
At the event, we had an opportunity to taste over 30 wines including wines from Kessler-Zink that offered a wide variety of traditional Riesling, dessert wines as well as the dry red wines, and The Leading Wineries of the World which is an international association representing over 22 wineries in Germany.The highlight amongst the ones on display were the Yabago Pure Chocolate Liqueur - it had a number of tasters curious to find out more about it and Epidot Edelschliff - an outstanding Riesling in a blue bottle design, adorned with a precious stone, said to be a collectible item.
I focused primarily on the Eiswein; the Rheinhessen 2012 Dornfelder red Eiswein (Icewine) was my first - although Mr. Ingo Stutz was serving the wine at 12 - 15°C to ensure that the aromas and the flavours were not lost, I would have liked them a bit chilled. However, the others were serving it at 5-7°C.
The wine that I enjoyed amongst all of them was the Gewurztraminer Beerenauslese 2005 from Loius Guntrem. Made from grapes that are affected by Botrytis cinerea, it had a velvety-smooth flavor and a rich sweetness.
We are trying to appeal to Asian markets since we believe that our wines taste well with the Asian cuisine’ commented Mrs. Birgit Fritche, the visiting representative from the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food
which has funded the project.
The message that the producers were trying to reinstate was that the German wines have evolved. The sweet, fruity whites that it was always famous for are being replaced by the dry styles with complex flavors.
My personal verdict is that the wines are still a bit too sweet for the Indian palate and a bit too expensive - some of them were like smacking your fingers after dipping your hand into a beehive!
German wines may not have it easy in India in terms of volume. The Indians love red wine, but Germany is more of a white wine country, though we are being told it is changing fast. Indians also tend to buy wine that are reasonably priced and commonly known. However, it can certainly capture the niche market with its high quality & high priced Eiswein.
Tags: Germany, Michael Siebert, Peter Deubet, Indo German Chamber of Commerce, Riesling, Kessler-Zink, The Leading Wineries of the World, Eiswein