Ambassador Michael Steiner brings Germany’s finest wines to India
New Delhi’s discerning wine-lovers, sommeliers, celebrities and a selection of hospitality experts took a journey through Germany’s wine-making traditions on Wednesday, 8 August. German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner and his wife Eliese Steiner hosted a select group of Indian guests for a tasting of German premium wines—Grosses Gewächs—at the Ambassador’s residence.
Grosses Gewächs are dry wines from the best vineyards of Germany, having a maximum residual sugar level of nine grammes per litre. The wines presented on 8 August included a selection of German Riesling, Spätburgunder and Silvaner wines. Joel B. Payne, wine critic and co-author of the Gault Millau Wine Guide, introduced the guests to the fine textures, lightness and taste of a sampling of Germany’s best wines.
Introducing the afternoon’s wine tasting session, Ambassador Steiner said that when people think about Germany, they would not immediately think of wine, although Germany actually produces some of the best wines worldwide. He characterised wine making as an art form that is an important element of Germany’s culture. The Ambassador reminisced how his mother, who was from the little town Lieser in the picturesque wine-growing Mosel region of Germany, could identify the year and place of origin of any wine she tasted.
Wine and culture have been paired in Germany for more than two thousand years. The Celts drank wine from home-grown grapes, and under Roman rule extensive viniculture was introduced in the country. Today's grape varieties evolved during a centuries-long process of selection.
German wine differs from wines of other countries—they are light, lively and fruity, thanks to Germany's unique climatic and geological conditions. The lower alcohol in German wines makes them taste milder and their light-bodied character is ideal for India’s high temperature. To highlight this, a selection of Indian specialties complemented the wines in the wine tasting event at the German Ambassador’s residence in New Delhi.
Enlarge image A select group of sommeliers, wine enthusiasts and celebrities took a journey through Germany’s wine-making traditions (© Courtesy: The Blue Moon) Payne introduced the selection of wines being presented at the event saying, “What you are going to see today is only a fraction of what Germany produces. You’re going to taste 13 wines of what we now call ‘Grand Cru’ – 13 of the finest wines that Germany can produce today.” The select group of guests were served 11 white and two red wines. Referring to the response towards German wines in India, he said, “There are not yet a lot of German wines available in the Indian market, but there is interest. I have seen that people have loved the wines almost everywhere I have gone.”
Amongst guests at the German Ambassador’s residence on Wednesday was the president of the Indian Wine Academy Subhash Arora, editor of the wine publication ‘Sommelier’ Reva Singh, president of BMW in India Andreas Schaaf, Indian sommelier Magandeep Singh, theatreperson Sanjna Kapoor and cartoonist and associate editor of Asian Age Sudhir Tailang.
The wine tasting event was supported by the Association of German Quality and Prädikat Wine Estates (Verband Deutscher Qualitäts- und Prädikatsweingüter – VDP), which is the world’s oldest association of wine estates. Comprising 198 very individualistic vintners (out of a total of over 48,000 vineyard owners in Germany) who share a deep commitment to tradition and above all, to high quality, the VDP are the guardians of a unique cultural landscape.
With the exception of Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen in the east, the wine-growing regions are concentrated in the south and southwestern part of Germany. They are among the most northerly wine regions in the world and the long growing season and moderate summer temperatures bring forth filigree wines that are relatively low in alcohol. The diversity of German wine stems from the many soil types and grape varieties—and this diversity is reflected in Germany's 13 wine-growing regions.
The members of VDP—vintners of the Prädikat or highest category of quality wines produced in Germany—are craftsmen and artists who have developed viticulture into the country’s wine culture. Each bottle of wine that comes out of these estates is unique and guarantees superior quality. The wines are developed from gently processed grapes that are vinified and matured in cool cellars and the winemaker gives his final touch that brings forth a wine with a distinctive character.