Logan airport April 21, 2014
And so it begins- my first Prowein Wine Fair experience. Prowein is a trade only wine exposition held every year in March in the city of Dusseldorf Germany. For the first time in 5 years I decided to pass on attending VinItaly to graze new pastures German Riesling. I expect it will be a another gigantic trade show (like VinItaly), only in a lesser interesting country. No offense Germany, but Italy is a tough country to beat in terms of beauty and decadence. One thing I do expect (considering it’s going down in Germany), is that Prowein will be “uber” organized. I say this because every time I’ve been somewhere spectacular (a Buddhist Temple or National Park) when I’m on my way to, the German’s are almost always on their way from. The expectations are high….
Dusseldorf apartment April 25, 2014
So, Prowein yeah…. It lasts 3 days and only a measly 4,796 exhibitors from 48 countries are there pouring their wines! The goal is to taste about 25-30 different German producers from various regions and to see some producers we work with from other countries. Prowein takes place at an the Dusseldorf Expo Center and encompass about 9 buildings total- it’s enormous.
Each building is packed with wine producers, and attendees of all sorts. I will speak of the attendees, which we really a mixed bag. First you have the German teenagers (not sure how they got in) who take up space in the aisles red-faced and giddy. They just stand there drunk and take up space. Side-note: at VinItaly you have a similar type of teenager, only we call them “the Ragazzi” the Italian boys. We have plenty here in Bostons’ North End. They sport their bright white high top sneakers, raised collars, tight multiple holed jeans, spiked hair, and always smoking butts. They could be considered cool if only they didn’t still live with their parents and weren’t unemployed). Of course, there are plenty of German Somms speaking German to the German producers- annoying. Then you have the Brits who are always dressed in their preppy clothes. They occupy the most aisle space because they are tall and have perfect grammar…. and wear hush-puppy loafers. If they didn’t party so hard after these shows I would depise them. The place was crawling with Norwegians- no comment. Finally the impatient Americans (like me) looking agitated, hungover, dressed in jeans and sneakers (always the worse dressed), in a rush, with tasting book in hand, taking pictures of wine labels, anxiously awaiting the escape to have a beer.
You get hungry standing around all day tasting wine, so I took notice of the viddles at hand. Instead of the sit down pop up restaurants and sandwich and coffee stands at VinItaly, Prowein primarily has food trucks grilling roasted chickens and bratwurst outside. The place smells like Memorial Day weekend. There was even a cart that had “New York Hotdogs” marked on the side. Why anyone would want a New York hotdog in the bratwurst capital of the world is beyond me.
Anyway, building 6 was the German building and where we spent a majority of our time, and as expected, it was the most organized building. The signs and table numbers were in their proper places, everyone was well-dressed. The lighting was perfect. We tasted copious amounts of Riesling, and nearly all were from the difficult 2013 vintage. Most people don’t know, but the German wineries make at least 20 different wine (often 70 or so it seems), so unless you want to spend the better part of a day tasting one winery it’s best to browse their wine menu (like an impatient American does) and tell them what you want to taste. A majority of the wines were just bottled weeks or days prior to the show and heavily sulphured. It was hard…. About the 2013 vintage abbreviated: Cold summer & wet Autumn- especially in the Mosel. Yields were way down, so very little wine was produced. As always, the good producers made good wine in this vintage, and the not so good produced mediocre wine. I typically like having vintage conversations at a winery, with the winemaker, drinking wine, so I apologize for the lack of insight.
I did sneak away to see some Austrian, Italian, French, and Portuguese producers. Of course the Italian building was a freak show (I think it was building 5). It seemed like when the Italians arrived and asked where they needed to go, the Germans just pointed to building 5. Nothing was organized, and the numbers and tables rarely matched- much like VinItaly. Still, I was able to find my producers and drink some red wines with them for a spell. It was a fine place that Italian building, which was a warm welcome after tasting over-sulphured German wines for 3 days straight. The Portuguese had a part of a smaller building which was kind of buzzing. There was wine from all over the place really…
Dusseldorf Airport April 26
I’m glad I went to Prowein- really. Germany was interesting in many ways. Dusselfdorf is a nice little city with a quaint Old Town, and what’s not to like about grocery stores in the underground train stations. I think that is freaking genius. Who cares if the roof caves in. The first thing I did when I got off the train was spend tons of money in the grocery store. And there are parks with green space everywhere. Dusseldorf’s claim to fame is it’s beer called- Altbier. ” Altbier is Copper-colored, cool-fermented, cold-conditioned, clean-tasting, with an aromatic hop presence, a firm creamy head, a medium body, and a dry finish. It is indigenous to the Rheinland, which is part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the northwestern part of Germany, near the Dutch border. Altbiers come from the Düsseldorf, the state capital, and there are at least 7 specialty Alt Beer bar/restaurants in the Old Town. The beer is made on site in these amazing copper tanks. You can even take a tour if you want, and if you drink 40 glasses in a night, it packs a massive hangover the next day.
The food in these Alt bars is a cardiac arrest on every plate. Your choices are pork, beer, either animals’ organs with sides of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. It’s important to note that the service at these Alt Beer joints is top-notch. When seated you are presented with a skinny tumbler immediately filled with Alt beer. After your beer is empty it’s promptly refilled. Documenting your beer tab is documented by a simple pencil mark on your coaster after every fill, and when you want to stop you simply put the beer coaster on top of the glass. Proficient as hell the Germans are. After I ordered the pork leg special they managed to somehow cook the leg, sauerkraut, and potatoes and have it in front of me within a minute. I’m not kidding. This happened at two Alt establishments, so there is some fierce competition with their fast food delivery.
All and all, I enjoyed my Prowein experience. The German producers are laid back, and it almost felt like they didn’t really care if they sold their wine or not. I kind of like this, so I decided not to buy any this year…. I’ll go back again next year and see what’s up.