Summertime for Riesling and Germany

German Wine Drinkers Ten years ago. . . Man walks in to a wine shop and asks for a wine to go with a certain dish. The clerk replies: “German Riesling”. Man walks out of wine shop. Wait, where’s the punch line? The badum-bump? There’s none of that because it’s not a joke. Times were really that hard for the German wine industry. The clerk might as well have just sung the entire theme song from The Producers instead. What a difference a decade makes: in the last five years, German wine imports to the US have doubled and show no signs of letting up. The German Wine Institute, which promotes German wine worldwide, is certainly patting itself on the back for its efforts. Still, I would give the most credit to the people on the frontlines selling German wine and most notably Terry Theise. If you aren’t familiar with him, you owe it to yourself to take a look at his enthusiastically written catalogs of German wine (he also has Austrian and Champagne catalogs as well). They’re highly personal, fun to read and easily the best insight into the contemporary world of German wine. They’re also one of the best values in the wine publishing world for the bargain price of free. The Theise Manifesto
  • Beauty is more important than impact.
  • Harmony is more important than intensity.
  • The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts.
  • Distinctiveness is more important than conventional prettiness.
  • Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil and artisanality.
The emphasis is on Riesling which is Germany’s grape contribution to the wine world. They’re made in many different styles but for summer drinking, we’re looking at the lighter Qba’s and Kabinetts, that are also ready to drink now. This way we won’t be forced to commit inVINticide - the crime of drinking a wine too young — which is the unseemly ending to many a Riesling in our house. (for more information on aging guideline see the Theise catalogs or, which has an excellent quick introduction to German wine) Dragonstone Riesling2005 Josef Leitz Dragonstone Riesling, Rhinegau4 Stars This is the wine that David Schildknecht (the Wine Advocate’s German expert) calls the best Riesling value in the world. It’s incredibly balanced, slightly pungent and savory with almond and floral notes. Amazing extra long zesty lime finish. 2003 Dönnhoff Estate Riesling, Nahe4 Stars The entry level wine from one of the most famous German producers. This is much drier but still very balanced. The diesel notes start to come through, which I believe is due to its dryness, but is a topic of debate. Wet rocks, rose petals and some peach (also some butterscotch) round out this classic Reisling. Very elegant but not as fun as the Dragonstone. Other ready to drink Rieslings from Terry Theise (vintages aren’t given, but for these, the younger the better):
  • J & H Selbach TJ Riesling
  • Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese Trocken
  • Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken
  • Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett
  • Joh. Jos. Christoffel “J.J.” Riesling
  • Reuscher-Haart Piesporter Treppchen Riesling
  • Hoffmann-Simon Estate Riesling
  • J & H A Strub Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett
  • Wagner-Stempel Siefersheimer Riesling Trocken
  • Wagner-Stempel Höllberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs
  • Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Trocken
  • Müller-Catoir Haardter Herzog Riesling Kabinett Trocken
  • Müller-Catoir Bürgergarten Breumel In Den Mauern Riesling Grosses Gewächs
  • Dr. Deinhard Riesling Halbtrocken
  • Dr. Deinhard Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Kabinett Trocken
  • Dr. Deinhard Deidesheimer Grainhübel Riesling Spätlese Trocken
Since all of these wines are extremely food friendly, you can serve them with pretty much anything. However, if you really want to experience total harmony, pair them with my mother’s potato salad, a manifesto of simplicity, elegance and balance. My Mom’s Potato Salad
  • 5 lbs potatoes
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 5 scallions, or half a medium white onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 20 green olives preferably stuffed with pimentos, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Peel, chop and boil potatoes until just getting soft (approx. 20 min) Drain potatoes and let cool for 10 min Add all the other ingredients and mix together. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serves 10 to 20. World Cup Wine ProductionThe World Cup We now have the makings for the perfect World Cup party, a few bottles of excellent German Riesling and my mom’s potato salad. And since Germany is hosting the games, the planets must be fully aligned. If you haven’t been keeping track, the last four teams remaining are all from major wine producing countries. Germany, the world’s 8th largest wine producer, plays the world’s 9th largest producer, Portugal for the 3rd place trophy this Saturday. France and Italy, respectively the 1st and 2nd largest wine producers play for the championship on Sunday. Depending on who you’re rooting for, you may want to include a bottle or two from one of the other countries! Resources: Terry Theise’s Catalogs German Wine Basics Contest: Tell me what’s wrong with the picture of the glass of Dragonstone Riesling and win a free t-shirt.

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  • Hi, I have 2 German Wine Glasses. I think from 1935-1940. They have a brown, Amber color stem and a clear cup. They have Rheingauer Romer and Rheingauer Mein etched on them. They also have a coat of arms on them. The only difference I can see between the two is that on one of them the coat of arms is colored and on the other it isn’t. Any idea what these are worth and where I can get more? Thanks

    Nicole on
  • Hi, I have 2 German Wine Glasses. I think from 1935-1940. They have a brown, Amber color stem and a clear cup. They have Rheingauer Romero and Rheingauer Mein etched on them. They also have a coat of arms on them. The only difference I can see between the two is that on one of them the coat of arms is colored and on the other it isn’t. Any idea what these are worth and where I can get more? Thanks

    Nicole on
  • The wine in the glass looks far too pale.

    Matt Watkins on
  • Hi Rob, you’re on the right track. The fill mark is 0,25L but looks like 0.25L on close inspection, however, such detailed forensics are not necessary.

    Steve De Long on
  • Hmmm, the glass appears to be a beer glass, and, although a little fuzzy when I zoom in, the fill mark appears to read 0.25L instead of 0,25L, which may or may not be a problem.

    Rob Cole on
  • I understand that green stemmed glasses are for serving Mosel wines. Rheingau is not on the Mosel.

    Bill Armstrong on
  • Hi Matt, nice try but no cigar.

    Steve De Long on
  • I agree with you completely Andrew, but it’s not the right answer.

    The correct answer is from

    BILL ARMSTRONG, who wins the t-shirt!

    Congratulations, Bill!

    The traditional glass for a Rheingau wine would be a amber colored “Hock” glass named for Hochheim in the Rheingau, but they really aren’t used anymore.

    Steve De Long on
  • Also, the bowl is wrong for young riesling. And for not having any evident “lip marks” on the glass, that sure is a short pour for an ultimate quaffer (it’s not like it’s an 86 Cos!). Thanks for the potato salad recipe as well.

    Eric S. Crane on
  • Colored stem. Major wineglass no-no. You won’t be able to tell the actual color of the wine because it will reflect the stem color.

    Andrew Shults on

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