I recently spent a week in Frankfurt and Hamburg on business where I met quite a few extremely interesting people. Jan Mangold is the passionate owner of a wine shop in the heart of Frankfurt who started this year to present some of the wines he offers through entertaining videos. Dirk Wuertz is a winemaker, and without any doubt the current star of the web 2.0 wine community in Germany. He has a polarizing personality and is never afraid to voice his opinion. Before he started his own venture, he worked as the winemaker for over 6 years at the acclaimed Robert Weil winery. Uli Kutting is reporting on wines on his blog and is full of interesting ideas. In Hamburg, I met with Hendrik Thoma, who is a very well known Master Sommelier. He his also the host of tvino, an internet based wine show that some describe as the German version of Gary Vaynerchuck’s wine library tv. I was delighted to meet with Tara Q. Thomas, the Senior Editor and wine critic of the Mediterranean at Wine & Spirits Magazine. Tara has an extensive knowledge on Greek wines, and has a super down to earth personality. Mario Scheuermann is a famous wine critic and journalist who embraced web 2.0 from the start. The Internet wine scene is certainly buzzing in Germany. I also went to the Weinlounge which is a fantastic, modern wine shop in Hamburg, and the owners are full with energy. It is fun to shop for wines there.
I also had the chance to present a large selection of Greek wines at a German importer. The importer works jointly with thirty members from all over the country, who all own wine shops. Once a year, they all meet over a 4-day period, taste 600 wines and decide on which wines to import and distribute to the members. I was invited for one day to show wines from Greece. I had a separate table at the company’s warehouse where the event took place. The reaction from the people that tasted the wines was one of disbelieve about the high quality. It amazed me once again how bad the reputation of Greek wines still seems to be in Germany. I heard more than once that there is a now the need to rethink the position on Greek wines – currently, not one of the 30 members has a Greek wine on offer. Literally every taster agreed that the complete line of wines shown was superb and consistent, not a single wine needed to hide.
There still are many deeply rooted prejudices out there when it comes to Greek wines. I had the feeling that in the current economic environment, shop owners are more interested in selling wines from better-known regions, even if this means compromising on the quality. As one gentleman put it, my line-up was certainly of higher quality than many of the other wines offered by the importer. That kind of praise certainly made my day.