German Wine Riesling

When I was asked to be a local culture ambassador of German wine, I was extremely flattered. Almost ten years ago, I lived in Stuttgart, Germany. From my tiny apartment, I could see rows of vines that hugged the city center. I learned about the varietals beyond Riesling and became enamored with Sekt, German sparkling wine. One of my favorite experiences was attending Weindorf, a wine festival in the heart of Stuttgart. My nostalgia returned this summer when I had the opportunity to become reacquainted with German wine. Fast forward to Washington, DC where I recently had the opportunity to do a German wine tasting with the sommelier of Four Seasons Washington, DC, Winn Robertson.

Sampling German Wine with Winn Roberson, the sommelier at Four Seasons Washington, DC
Sampling German Wine with Winn Roberton, the sommelier at Four Seasons Washington, DC

About Winn Roberton

At Bourbon Steak Mr. Roberton shared some of his favorite German wines being offered at their award winning restaurant. Winn has been with Bourbon for eight years, starting as a server and working his way to sommelier. Given his experience, not only did he share his insight about the wine, but which dishes to pair them with. Here are some of his most popular offerings:

Misconceptions About Riesling

We began our tasting with Dr. Loosen, a 2013 Riesling from the Mosel region that is summer perfection. One of the misconceptions of Riesling in the United States is that they are all sweet. I recall being at a DC bar and asking a young bartender if the Riesling was dry and she looked at me as if I was crazy and said “all Rieslings are sweet”. Der Horror! Dr. Loosen was not only dry but it had a great impressive body with strong floral notes. Mr. Roberton says that it is the perfect wine to pair with a steak for those who are not red wine drinkers. The misconceptions continue to be broken…

Darting Pinot Meunier paired with my Beautiful Steak at Bourbon Steak DC 
Darting Pinot Meunier paired with my Beautiful Steak at Bourbon Steak DC

Pinot Meunier

When Mr. Roberton introduced this wine to us, I was intrigued. Another misconception about German wine is that it is all white. There are some great reds being produced in Germany, especially in the southwestern part of the country. The Darting Pinot Meunier is proof of that. With its rich red color yet light transparency, I couldn’t help to think that if a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon had a baby, this would be it. This wine paired beautifully with my tenderloin steak but also my dinner guest enjoyed it with her roasted chicken. It’s a very versatile red wine.

Ice Wine

When many people think of ice wine, they think of Canada. I am one of them. I wasn’t aware that Germany produced ice wine. This ended up being our favorite German wine of the evening. The 2004 Peter Jakob Kühn is a delight. After a heavy dinner at Bourbon Steak, instead of diving into a starchy dessert, we indulged in this gorgeous sweet wine. Hints of honey and citrus make it a refreshing yet indulgent ending to a great dinner. On the superficial side, we loved the presentation: a small black bottle with a beer cork. Now you know what to get me for Christmas!

German Wine Dr Loosen Riesling
Dr Loosen Riesling

How to Pair German Wine

As the name implies, the menu at Bourbon Steak is a carnivore’s dream. However, there is a strong selection of dishes for those who are not steak lovers like my guest. We started with a refreshing tuna tartare that was paired with the Kabinett Riesling. This one was a bit on the sweeter side, but it paired beautifully with the tuna. I cannot stress enough to ask the restaurant’s sommelier or beverage manager for suggestions.

Eat outside the lines

I love Mr. Roberton’s suggestion about trying white wines with steak. I find that many times people force themselves to drink something they don’t like because they don’t want to break tradition or look bad in front of their guests. Know there are light reds you can pair with seafood and robusts whites you can pair with meats. Just use your imagination!

German Wine Dinner at Bourbon Steak DC: Table Side Tuna Tartare
German Wine Dinner at Bourbon Steak DC: Table Side Tuna Tartare

To beauty of wine is that it’s one of the most indigenous products we can taste. The terroir, the land in which the grapes are produced has such an influence in the flavor of the wine. I find this symbolically beautiful. Having a sip of the Riesling here at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC transported me to the rolling hills of the Mosel Valley. Prost, my friends!

Where to find German Wine:

Harris Teeter carries a wide selection of German wine in collaboration with Wines of Germany. You can also get more information about food pairings and where to experience German wine tastings on their WeinCraft page.

Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Wines of Germany, however opinions are my own. Those who know me well, know I love all things Deutschland, especially German wine!
  • priyakonings

    So interesting to learn about German wines!! Didn’t know about the reds—need to sample them!

  • Gokul

    That is an interesting article. Need a German wine testing tour.

  • Road Ninjas

    Nice article! I have never been a big wine drinker mostly because I don’t know what to put with what and I don’t my food not to taste right because l like my food! lol This was very informative! I have made a couple notes of what to try next time I am out!

  • Star Harford

    I didnt even realise Germany was a wine country! This was a very informative article, I will try out a couple of your suggestions to see if ai can become more clued up on wine

  • My Normal Gay Life

    Your article is very informative and I really enjoyed it. However, so far, I am not a fan of German wines. Of course, they’ll do if that’s all there is available but German wines and I just don’t get alone. I hope one day I’ll find the exception!

  • People think all Rieslings are sweet?!? What?! A sweet Riesling is like a Moscato… wayyyy too sugary for me. But a dry Riesling… YUM. It sounds like you had a decadent evening! 🙂

    – Meagan

  • Punita Malhotra

    Don’t know much about wines in general, but really interesting to know how many varieties there are. Developing and identifying tastes can be a huge learning process.

  • Archana Singh

    I love wines but have not been a big fan of German Wines. But your experience looks pretty neat. There seems to be some interesting variety of wines. Next time I am gonna try one of these. Maybe dry Riesling.

  • This is a good alternative for all those Germany travelers who don’t like beer! I don’t think there’s anything Germany does that isn’t spot on!

  • Paige Brown

    What an amazing honor to get! That alone is cool! I love Rieslings (the sweet and dry, but I’ve not graduated to reds yet, clearly, more of a beer girl.) How cool to be able to do this in D.C. as a culture ambassador!

  • I love Reislings, and knew that not all of them are sweet! Actually, I should say, I love many German wines in general! Was lucky to go to a wine tasting in Rüdesheim last year. It was fab!

  • Mike C

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried German wine. The beer? Yes, lots of times but never wine. I’m intrigued now. The piece was beautifully written.