For a long time I thought wine needs no visuals. In the early days of the Wine Rambler we did not even have photos on the blog. After all, what use is it to see the label when all you need to know is inside the bottle - and surely that is better captured in words? Well, I was wrong. Wine is more than just taste. Amongst other things it is also image - an image created by, amongst others, wine photographers. Today we have one of them, Andreas Durst - who is also a winemaker -, explain why he feels that wine photography is failing, stuck in old clichés that always were a lie. Enjoy, and learn.
What's wrong with commercial wine photography? A photographic guest ramble by Andreas Durst
Wine glass glistening, autumnal gold on sloped vineyards, the winegrower wandering the vines in his Sunday best - or, another favourite image, we see him with glass in hand, tasting wine by romantically flickering cellar candlelight.
Wine photography as Heimatfilm - a cheap, sentimental romance.
This image is old hat, and even in the olden days of winemaking it would have been far from realistic. Winemaking means work, hard work. However, these hoary old clichés, even today, continue to dominate our image of wine and of the people who make it.
We all have our dreams. The Wine Ramblers sometimes imagine casually telling a guest who has just praised the marvellous Riesling we served them that it came from our own vineyard. While many have this dream (different varietal perhaps), only media celebrities ever seem to realise it. After all, you cannot just grow vines in your back garden. Or so I thought. Until I came across Steve Race. Steve has done exactly that - planting vines in an allotment in Yorkshire, of all places, and making his own wine.
In this guest ramble, Steve shares some of his experiences with home wine growing and making, first in England, now in Spain. Enjoy, and learn.
"A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for," begins the famous Kingsley Amis quote that is the Wine Rambler's motto, "a daunting testimony to that peculiar nation's love of detail and organization." We will not argue about the love of detail and organisation, but we always try to make the point that the wines behind the labels are worth your time. Today we can leave that task to someone not suspect of national bias: a Canadian - Lesley Trites, also known as Girl on Wine.
In our latest guest ramble, Lesley tells the story of how she was lured into German wine and shares a foreigner's perspective on German wine (labels) and culture. Enjoy, and learn.
Trockenbeerenauslese Graacher Himmelreich, Anyone?
The first time I went to Germany was in 2006. At that time I knew next to nothing about German wine and, to tell you the truth, not all that much about wine in general. But I at least had an interest in trying local wine, in the same way I was interested in trying local food.
The Mosel, heartland of the German Riesling, valley of steep slopes, home of castles and ruins - what better place to spend a holiday and taste some wine? Molly Hovorka, food-wine-travel blogger of Baking in Stilettos recently embarked on such a Mosel adventure, and she was kind enough to share her travel story with the Wine Rambler's readers - who may know her from a previous guest ramble, on the subject of Hungary's unique white wines. A highly recommended read, as is the following ramble on her Mosel adventure. Enjoy, and learn.
Mosel travels, a guest ramble by Molly Hovorka
It’s hard to believe that I’ve become such a lover of German wines. Years and years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a tasting of 40+ German wines from the West Coast’s top importer. To say I didn’t like them would be an understatement: I believe I described them as tasting like flat grape soda, and weak soda at that, and left having purchased two bottles of Spanish wine from the bargain bin.
I could kick myself today. No doubt we were tasting amazing wines that day; I believe the cheapest on the table was around $40/bottle and the prices went up sharply from there. Happily, my taste has changed and now nothing delights me more than the acidity, bright fruit, comparatively low alcohol content, and, most especially, the minerality of Mosel Riesling.
What could be more idyllic, more innocent than enjoying a glass of wine with friends at a historic wine festival? At least as far as Germany is concerned, the history of wine festivals is not always as innocent as one might expect though. In our latest Guest Ramble, wine blogger and historian Peter Jakob, aka MarcoDatini looks into the Nazis' attempt to invent a national German wine tradition through the creation of the Festival of German Grape and Wine / Fest der deutschen Traube und des Weines. A highly recommended read (also available in German), especially as it approaches the topic of wine with a critical, historical perspective that is highly unusual in wine blogging. Enjoy, and learn.
This is our most unusual Guest Ramble so far - wine blogger and historian Peter Jakob, aka MarcoDatini, looks into the Nazi invention of German wine culture through the history of the Festival of German Grape and Wine. You can read the English version or have a look at the German original below.
Das Fest der deutschen Traube und des Weines. Von Peter Jakob
Fragt man heute Menschen, die die Jahre des Dritten Reichs als Jugendliche oder junge Erwachsene erlebt haben, nach dem Fest der deutschen Traube und des Weines, werden sich diese meist nach kurzem Überlegen daran lebhaft erinnern. Aus heutiger Sicht scheint dies zunächst überraschend, gehören doch Weinfeste jeglicher Art mittlerweile zum festen Programm des Veranstaltungskalenders vieler Weindörfer und auch der meisten größeren Städte. Heutzutage mag ein Weinfest in einem Winzerort noch beeindrucken, die Feste in den Großstädten beeindrucken in keiner Weise und werden nicht lange in Erinnerung bleiben. Doch scheint dies in den 30er Jahren anders gewesen zu sein.
Recently on this very site, we had a little discussion on the future of German reds going that put the spotlight on German wines in the global scheme of things. We enjoyed that. Making great sweeping claims about the future of wine is, after all, the bread and butter of any self-respecting wine blogger. What we enjoy even more, though, is when we can go regional on you, for there is nothing, really nothing that enhances the enjoyment of wine more than a sense of place. We can't do nearly as much wine travelling as we would like to, but we have been lucky enough to have very special guest bloggers reporting on regions and issues that they know intimately. This time, we have asked Basel-based Simon Jones, whose not-just-wine blog From Blackpool to Basel we recommend warmly, to share his knowledge about a patch of land that is not nearly as well known as it deserves to be. As always with our guest rambles, we invite you to do what we have done: Enjoy, and learn.
We have enjoyed his wines. We adore his website. We follow his tweets. And we are now proud to present palatine wine grower, hat fashion model and Silvaner advocate Lukas Krauß as a very special Wine Rambler guest blogger. Without further ado, enjoy what he has to say on a grape close to his, and our, heart. Enjoy, and learn.
For a little while now the Wine Rambler has been interested in wine from Hungary and Eastern Europe and we have been lucky enough to taste a few original and unusual wines from this often overlooked part of the wine world. After sharing our latest adventure, a Hungarian Cabernet Franc, on Twitter, we realised that we were not alone with this interest. Molly Hovorka, for instance contacted us with suggestions on which Hungarian wines and producers to explore further. In particular, she encouraged us to look into the indigenous varieties of Hungary if we wanted to find a few unusual surprises. If you too are curious to explore wines a little out of the ordinary, you may want to read what she has to say on:
Hungary's unique white wines, by Molly Hovorka
Ask most non-Hungarians what they think of Hungarian wine and you will likely be met with one of four reactions:
- A blank stare
- A drunken tale of visiting Eger's 200+ cellar row while backpacking
- A fond memory of tasting a Tokaji Aszu dessert wine
- A grimace at the thought of Hungarian Bull's Blood supermarket plonk