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.
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…
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.
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!
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!
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.