In this past 10 days, we have visited 3 very different wine and food related fairs. I liked them all, although they differ vastly. Each of these fairs had its strengths and we found some gems and learned new things in all.
The week of wines started in Munich with the 22nd edition of Forum Vini. In this international fair which is getting bigger every year (almost 10.000 visitors who had to haggle themselves through 323 exhibitors this year) we always visit some “constants” like our beloved organic wine producer Rinklin, who years ago seriously led us to German wines for the first time. His Muskateller, Riesling and Pinot Blanc may be expected from a winery in the Baden region, but he surprises with his Pinot Noir and Regent, reds which are full of body, with very well balanced tannins and aromas of spices.
If you do not limit yourself to a certain theme or region, you will easily be overwhelmed with the abundance in this fair. My advice, actually for any wine fair which is bigger than just 10 vineyards or so, is to seek out maybe a region (e.g. south Italy), a theme (autochtonous varieties) or a seminar well in advance, register where necessary, and stick to it. Afterwards, if you feel up to it, you can still visit the one or the other promising-looking wine-stand.
One seminar I visited this time was very interesting: Chocolate and Wine! Combined were different wines from the Graf Metternich Vineyards and chocolates from chocolatier Bernd Danner. As with any food, when combining wine with chocolate there are lesser and better results but the one important lesson to learn was: Do not be afraid to try different pairings. Sweet whites are of course the first that come to mind, but there were interesting tastes to be created even with dry whites or not so dry reds. Just make sure to choose pure chocolates with high cacao percentages, experiment with different beans and regions. Stay away from chocolates with flavors, like orange, chili etc. when combining with wines. Taste the wine first, then take a piece of chocolate, let it melt a little bit in your mouth and take a sip of the wine. Now mix everything in your mouth with a “washing machine movement”, as Mr. Danner put it. Especially chocolates with light acidic notes (a criollo from Venezuela or Madagascar) in combination with sweet white or red wines were my favorites, both benefiting from each other and creating new, fruity aromas.
The second exhibition which we visited was the contrast program. The Kulinart which just took place for the second year in Stuttgart had around 60 exhibitors (mainly delicatessen from Italy and France, wine from all over Europe, chocolate and kitchen utensils) and 5000 visitors in the beautiful and over a century old Römerkastell building on an historical site near Stuttgart. This exhibition was very nice, almost intimate and had a lot to offer although it was rather small. We ordered some great Burgund wines (Morey St. Denis, Gevrey Chambertin and Corton Grand Cru) from an irresistible Frenchman named “Du Pape”(!), bought some honey made by real Stuttgart bees in Stuttgart vineyards and: Truffles from Alba from some very charming Italian men. The one to the right might be Truffle Don, Jr., don’t you think?
Last but not least, we visited a wine tasting of 11 winemakers strictly from within the city limits of Stuttgart. From our terrace we can see almost all of these vineyards (and no, Stuttgart is not a village, although a lot of Bavarians thinks so) and it was very exciting to try whites and reds from these winemakers. Some are co-ops, some are privately owned and along with the usual suspects (Riesling!) we had a few surprises: Some Lemberger (Blaufränkisch elsewhere) with just the right amount of time in the right wooden barrels were real charmers (Weingut der Stadt Stuttgart, for example), Rotenberg, which we had already tasted in Wielandshöhe proved that the whole assortment is worthy. But the real discovery was a very light dry red wine, almost rose, from the rare “Muskat-Trollinger” vine. The winemaker told us that this vine is autochtonous, but some online research reveals that it is also found in France, USA and Greece, under the name of Black Hamburg, Muscat de Hambourg or Black Muscat. If you drink this wine from a black glass you would surely think it is a white wine, it is so full of typical Muscat aromas, reminding of elder flowers. Although other Muscat varietals are often used for sweet or fortified wines, this was dry. The combination on the palate was unbelievable. I will definitely hunt this wine down and buy some bottles.
All in all, a week full of very different wine-related events. And it is not even over: Tonight we are going to a southwest France wine tasting by one of Germany’s best sommeliers, Bernd Kreis. First new information I will put to a test will be combining wine and chocolate for the coming up Sugar High Friday with the irresistible theme chocolate truffles!