Thursday, November 18, 2010

German wines aren't sticky, the notions are

"German wines really haven't taken off in the United States," an elderly gentleman firmly announced at the last social wine tasting I attended in Orange County. He was a man with solid beliefs, beliefs he shared openly, such as the government being too big, and Meg Whitman being the better candidate for Governor. I told him that German wines take off well enough for me to make a good living at it. "Well," he scoffed, "you make a good living at selling them, but I still don't think they have taken off here. They might make good wines in Germany, but there are a lot of good wines, and I just won't pay to drink German wines."

The fact that one old-school gentleman doesn't want to spend his hard-earned cash on German wines is fine with me and doesn't warrant much more than shrug of the shoulders, but the generalizing is what turns me off and has me shaking my head. YOU don't want to pay money to drink German wines, therefore, all of American probably don't want to.... is this a logical conclusion?

Fast forward to yesterday, I am in a German owned restaurant in a very nice city, hilly, full of trees, quiet. It is close to lunchtime, and I have brought 4 dry German white wines for the owner to taste, as he has already made it clear to me that dry German wines are where it is at, and the sweet Mosel stuff, in his opinion, is just not as good as the dry wines of Baden (where he is from), Wurttemburg, Franken, and Rheingau. So I brought him a Riesling Spatlese trocken from Robert Weil, a Silvaner from Hans Wirsching, a Pinot Blanc from Salwey, and a Pinot Gris from Heger. He likes the wines, appreciates that I even carry German wines that are not the typical array found in my competitors' wine bags. Appreciates that I know where Baden is, where Franken is, where Wurttemberg is, etc. because I've been there, more than once, soon to be 4 times. Anyway, he's happy with the wines, but he laments that his customers don't get it and don't want quality and aren't willing to pay for it. I nod sympathetically.

Several of his wine-loving customers start streaming in the door; they are carrying bottles of wine and heading for a large table set for 12. Noon is approaching, and it becomes clear that they have convened to share a lunch and a wine tasting. Owner waves a few patrons over to join in the tasting of my wines, which I happily oblige, because the more people that taste Rudi Wiest Selections wines, the better, because then more people become educated about them.

Three people sit down to taste, and 2 of them love the wines, expound how fresh and zippy the 2009 Hans Wirsching Silvaner is, how tasty the 2006 Robert Weil Estate Riesling Spatlese trocken is..... then the loudest of the customers announces, "I just don't like German wines, because they are always sweet!"

Owner says to him, these are not sweet wines, they are bone dry. I don't even have to speak; my customer is doing my job for me.

Well, his customer, mind already made up, says the wine on his palate, because it is German, is sweet.

Then, same customer says, "But I'll tell you what. If you bring me an Eiswein, then I will taste that! There's NOTHING in the world better than a German Eiswein."

My customer, the owner of the restaurant, turns to me, and says, "You see, these guys.... they want Eiswein, they don't get how rare that is, how expensive that is. They want me to break open an Eiswein for them, then yeah, they'll taste it and get excited. But will he buy a bottle off the list?"

He may not. His bizarre evaluations, such as saying the dry wine in front of him is sweet, but at the same breath asks for an Eiswein, may make him not a great candidate for making rational decisions. But yes, there are customers who will buy an Eiswein off a restaurant list. And there are customers who will order a dry German wine off a list, too. And all variations of wines in between.
Shocking, but yes. But we do need to get over some hurdles. Hurdles in people's brains.

Each day is a teaching opportunity, every inhale through the nostrils and every sip folks take of these wines, whether dry or fruity/sweet is valuable. It's a chance for the thinking person to evaluate something for what it is, instead of rejecting reality. That's the alternative to pulling out an old file from the mind that tells one to just spew out what's already in there.


TWG said...

What about Samantha SD start with her.

matcohen said...

You should stick it in a bag, and tell them it's from Alsace. Then take off the bag after they say how great it is.