You may remember that German wine classifications are quite complicated. To a large extent a wine's classification is based on it's sugar content. We are not going to repeat all the classification levels here. Suffice it to say that the lowest level German wine is table wine (actually an even lower level is described in our article I Love German Wine and Food - Launching a Series, but we promised not to mention it again and we intend to keep our word.) Deutscher Tafelwein (German table wine) comes in slightly better than table wine. Originally we had no intention of reviewing these plebian wines, but when we saw one for sale in a local wine store we figured why not give it a chance.
What could we lose? In the world of wine, as elsewhere, pleasant surprises can happen. So we decided to buy one, probably only one, Deutscher Tafelwein. Before reviewing this wine let's recall some details of German wine classification and then talk a bit about Deutscher Tafelwein in general. Landwein is a Deutscher Tafelwein from a specific area.
Qualitätswein Bestimmter Anbaugebiet (QbA) means a quality wine from one of the thirteen specified German wine regions. About one third of German wine is QbA wine, a percentage that is rapidly declining. The grapes in QbA wines usually have not fully ripened and so their producers are allowed to add sugar during fermentation; the process is known as chaptalization.
Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) means assured quality wine. About two thirds of German wine is QmP wine, a percentage that is rapidly increasing. QmP wines may not be chaptalized and must come from a well-defined area. These supposedly medium or high quality wines are divided into six subcategories, as described in our Launching. article. Of the thirteen German wine regions only the two biggest, Rheinhessen and Pfalz, devote more than 10% of their wine production to table wine.
Of course, when you talk about German table wine, you're talking about Germany and not a specific region. That takes care of the general comments; it's time to see how the Deutscher Tafelwein actually turned out. OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price. Wine Reviewed Schmitt Winzertanz 9% alcohol about $8 (1 liter bottle) No vintage year Let's start with the marketing materials, which are a lot shorter than usual.
Light straw color; apple, pear, and citrus aroma, off-dry peach flavor, medium body and finish. Serving suggestion, serve lightly chilled with pork chops and apple sauce. And now for the review. I'm not really pleased that the label mentions no vintage year.
But when you think about it, most Champagne doesn't have a vintage. Furthermore, I'm not as much into vintages as some people I know. On the other hand, the bottle size does upset me. I'm just not happy when I see such a large bottle. Yes, I know that Champagne often comes in magnums (one and a half liters in case you didn't know). The label is attractive showing dancing peasants around wine barrels.
What about the contents? The first pairing was with a commercial shepherd's pie, perked up a bit with Thai Chili Sauce. The wine was quite pleasant, even if short and not complex. It was a bit sweet. I didn't taste everything that was promised me, but broken wine promises are not restricted to low-priced offerings.
The wine went well with dry, thin biscuits containing slices of almonds and pistachios. I next paired this wine with cold salmon filet accompanied by a red (surely because of ketchup) mayonnaise sauce and pearl onions, and a tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad. The wine retained its fruit and was moderately long, but a bit thin, I don't really recommend this Deutscher Tafelwein with such a high quality salmon dish, but it wasn't bad, especially for the price. In the presence of a nut chocolate cake the wine was refreshingly acidic. Then I tasted the Winzertanz with reheated chicken and potatoes in a gravy based on soya sauce. The wine tasted appley; its length was moderate.
I guess it is what you call a quaffing wine. The final meal consisted of fried chicken breast strips, accompanied by green beans and rice. In this case the wine was fairly weak. The Winzertanz was pleasant with a ripe French camembert cheese, handling it better than some of the more expensive wines that also accompanied this cheese. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the wine definitely held its own when paired with a German Limberger cheese that was starting to smell. After I paired the wine with four meat dishes and two cheeses the bottle was still more than a third full.
This wine can go a lot way, not because it is so jam-packed with flavor, but because I didn't need to consume a lot in order to judge it. On the other hand, because it is pleasant and contains relatively little alcohol, you might find yourself drinking quite a bit. Unlike my usual policy, I don't intend to finish this bottle; I want to move on to other wines.
But frankly, in some of my tastings the Winzertanz did a lot better than another, much more expensive wine. Final verdict. If I'm with a bunch of people who don't want to spend a lot on wine and we are ordering simple food, I'll be glad to drink this wine. In some ways it is quite a bargain.
And recently bargains have been few and far between.
Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but to be honest, he prefers drinking fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches computers in an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com and his major article web site is www.travelitalytravel.com