For the longest time, especially when we first lived in Germany, Bill and I avoided drinking German wines. During that first tour, from 2007-09, we had a few that we really didn’t like for one reason or another, and those experiences negatively colored our opinions about all German wines. We wrongly assumed all German white wines would be too sweet, and all German reds would be very light bodied and weird tasting. I’m so glad that we got to move back to Germany in 2014 and some people convinced us to try again. Since we moved back, we’ve become familiar with some of the best local grapes, like Dornfelder, Riesling, Lemberger, Spätburgunder, and Schwarzriesling. Now, we’re no longer afraid to try German wines!
Those of you who read this blog regularly, may know how much Bill and I enjoy our wine habit. Since Bill and I moved from the Stuttgart area to Wiesbaden, we’ve been able to enjoy some of Germany’s best wines. Up here near the Rhein River, we’re in the heart of Germany’s wine country. In fact, when there’s no pandemic going on, our little neighborhood has a biweekly “wine stand”, which I’ve written about extensively. We were lucky enough to get to experience and enjoy that tradition last year. Boy, have we missed those days this year. We’ve missed a lot of things, thanks to the freakin’ coronavirus!
Last night, Bill and I had a first time experience. We used Zoom Meeting to hang out with some members of Stuttgart and Wiesbaden Food and Wine Lovers, a Facebook group I created a few years ago when we were still in Stuttgart. Probably because of the pandemic, the group has really grown recently, and we’ve picked up some new members who know a lot about wines. A couple of them have been offering “virtual wine tastings” using apps like Zoom.
Although I started the Facebook group, last night was the first time I tried one of the virtual tastings. It was hosted by Jennipher Schwarz, a woman with a vast and fascinating background in food and wine, as well as boating. Seriously, I could listen to her stories about her seafaring life for hours! She’s a captain who has done all kinds of work on different boats around the world and has been everything from a chef to a deckhand! Now, at least when there’s no virus threat, she works on a boat that sails from Amsterdam to France and gives people bike tours. I hope to talk to her more about that, since Bill and I have been dying to do a barge cruise.
Because there wasn’t a lot of lead time before the tasting, Jennipher limited participants to those who live in the Wiesbaden area. She personally delivered the wines to us a few days ago, along with some instructions on how to prepare them for the tasting. We had a prosecco, two reds, and three whites, all produced by small, family owned vineyards. Jennipher’s husband, Klaus, grew up in the wine business, although he went on to become a tax preparer. However, he has lots of knowledge about the local wines we tried because they were made by people he’s known his whole life.
We ended up having twelve people participating, which I thought was a really good number. The Zoom app was easy to use, and we all had a really good time trying wines we’d never find at the local Rewe or Globus. The only thing that took some getting used to was knowing when to speak. Because it was harder to get non-verbal cues than it would have been if we’d been in person, we sort of ended up interrupting each other a few times. But we eventually got the hang of it. By the end of the night, we were laughing, bonding, and I was doing a lot of swearing, although I certainly don’t have to be drunk to do that! Another added bonus was that I could taste wines in my nightgown and no one had to worry about getting home safely!
Bill made some light tapas to enjoy before and during our tasting. In retrospect, we probably should have had more to eat before we started enjoying the wines. The tasting took a couple of hours, and by the time we were finished, I felt like I’d made some new friends.
Bill and I have been pretty bored, lonely, and despondent since the coronavirus came along. It’s put a hamper on our ability to travel, dine in restaurants, and go to festivals. When things are “normal”, Germany always has something going on– there’s usually a festival, but even when there’s not, there are vast arrays of activities and clubs to join. We had gotten used to being able to alleviate boredom with relative ease. Last night’s activity was a reminder that with a little creativity and ingenuity, we don’t have to be bored or lonely. And with a little self-discipline, we also don’t have to be hungover… Unfortunately, self-discipline was in short supply last night!
Some of the participants last night have also volunteered to visit the winery today and do some work. Bill and I would join them, but we have other plans, as Germany cautiously begins to reopen. We’re going to visit Birkenhof Hofheim and pick up some produce! Hopefully, my travel blog will come back to life as things progress!