Why do I seem to be the only one who still likes German wines?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but reports from the front lines indicate that you may be on your own in the battle to keep German wines relevant in the 21st century and, sadly, the cavalry is headed in the opposite direction.
Why? Where do I start?
If this was the 1980s, popular music would be worth listening to and the wines of Germany would be kings of liquor-store shelves. Since they were some of the first wines imported into Canada, their consumer-friendly, off-dry-meets-semi-sweet flavour profiles made them the perfect all-around pick for anyone who couldn’t stomach a glass of beer or hard liquor and the ideal meal mate for holiday family gatherings, which, at the time, was the only inspiration to serve wine for 99 per cent of the country.
When wine started to become the drink of choice for hipsters in the early ‘90s and selection across Canada began to grow exponentially — especially from cool, upstart new-world countries like Australia and the USA — the wines from Germany accepted a subservient position as the “training wheels” tipple for beginners. One that would be cast aside once a palate got a taste for drier whites and fuller-bodied reds which are wine styles Germany struggles to produce.
Things haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. Attempts at attracting new fans with drier versions of themselves failed, with the only momentum gained coming from modern packaged versions of what they do best — light-bodied, fruit-forward white wines made with the Riesling grape.
All that said, I’m on your side. The Germans have one major advantage over the competition. Turkey dinner aside, they are the quintessential definition of food-friendly, especially when it comes to eclectic cuisine. Think sushi, Thai, Chinese and Mexican, as well as anything international with an up-front spiciness or that comes plated with a bevy of conflicting flavours. No one does thirst-quenching and refreshing better than the Germans, and in a liquor landscape where everything old is new again, German wines just may have their day, again.