Notes and Learnings from tasting wines at the VDP. Heimspiel Nahe

So, last Sunday we attended VDP.Heimspiel… – VDP wha’? Haaimspeel?  I hear you asking.

And rightly so, the title needs a bit of an explanation: VDP stands for Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter. There’s little chance I can teach you the phonetics for this, so just go with the abbreviation VDP (pronounced as “Fow –De’-Pe’”). VDP is Germany’s elite association of Winemakers.

Gut Hermannsberg wine-estate
Wine Estate Gut Hermannsberg – commanding stunning views of the Nahe River Valley | picture curtesy VDP Nahe

Amongst others VDP organizes public wine tasting events, and Heimspiel is one of them. Heimspiel is a specific term in football-crazy Germany, literally referring to a home game or match, and figuratively meaning a home-run. In this case, you can figure the home-game as a few winemakers hosting plenty of their peers at their estates to offer tastings. This year the match took place in the gorgeous region of the River Nahe, where the Nahe wine estates Crusius, Hermannsberg and Dönnhoff hosted up to 10 stands with VDP member winemakers from the River Nahe Valley and selected guests from the Rheinhessen region and the Ahr valley. Likely next year will see the Rheinhessen winemakers reciprocate and host colleagues from the Nahe River.

So, with that clarified, we are back to where we started: … last Sunday we attended VDP.Heimspiel  –  and this is what we took away:

Don’t hesitate! Whenever there’s an opportunity like this one: Go! Events like these are amongst the few chances to meet so many winemakers in such a relaxed atmosphere. Unless you are lucky enough to meet them personally during a wine tour at their very own winery. Altogether the VDP.Heimspiel looked and felt (and tasted) like a summer party for wine-wonks.

Think about timing: Be there exactly when the event starts. It will get busy throughout the day, so you’ll get a headstart and a chance to chat with some of the winemakers at their stands. Understandably their chattiness will decrease as the day progresses.

Get your pacing right: There are about 10 winemakers per location. Offering 4 wines to taste. Each poured at about a tasting portion. Do the math’s and you end up at consuming about a bottle wine at each hosting estate. So, spit and don’t get drunk. There are plenty of spittoons around, and they are used widely. Also, you may want to prepare a bit ahead: this is a great chance to taste wines from wineries you don’t know, try these first while your taste-buds are still fresh. The list of participants is published on the VDP event website and you’ll get a list of wines on offer when checking in to the event. 

Think about transport well in advance: The estates are close to each other, but still too far to walk. There was a shuttle advertised but its itinerary and schedule remained a bit of a mystery. Getting to either event venue is a challenge in any case – this is countryside after all with very little public transport. Group up, team up, and find a responsible driver. (at BottleStops we are here to help, just reach out).

Food: It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but still worth a mention: make sure you are not tasting on an empty stomach. Each venue has a food stand with very good quality streetfood: barbecued sausages, Flammkuchen (ultra-thin pizza), and the likes. Also nobody will look at you if you bring your own picnic.

Tasting in the courtyard of wine estate Dr Crusius

Dress-code: There’s none, it’s Germany after all. But still you’d blend in nicely with some summer linens. There is a nuance of seen-and-to-be-seen in the air, and – if you are a just a bit self-conscious – swap shorts and sandals for loafers and shirt. As a bonus, you’ll fit perfectly into the gorgeous yards and the lush gardens of the wineries.

Also noteworthy: you can’t buy wines. Some estates bring pricelists and you can order later, but there’s no direct wine purchase to make. Take away the event brochure – all wines and adresses are listed there.

So, if you are interested in wines (which you must be since have read this post to the end… ) and should you travel Germany soon, then don’t forget to check for wine events to attend. Most are absolutely worth a stop, if not a detour, or even a journey. This one was. For upcoming public wine tasting events check our blogposts – and mark the date for SaarRieslingSommer