Winebars and pubs in Mainz need to offer more opportunities to taste and try different wines at one time.
In a city bursting with winebars, wine events and a centuries old culture of wine drinking we do lack a thing that the visiting wine lover might have assumed for granted: a culture for tasting. Not only in Mainz will the curious traveller have a hard time to find a winebar offering a tasting flight. The closest he might get to a structured tasting is the odd wine pairing in one of the better restaurants in the city. But good luck if you are looking for a chance to discover more than one wine at a time. At best you compose your own flight by ordering your wines as a ‘Piffchen’ the smallest serving size (often not indicated on the list of wines by the glass).
More than once I found myself haggling with the choices of a Riesling from Rheingau, Rheinhessen or Nahe. Or wishing for an opportunity to compare wines from the same winemaker, or from different vintages. Or just discover a wine, a variety, a region. A small flight, for instance of three wines, a staple offer in wineries and winebars of the New World, could beautifully set the direction for more glasses or even bottles to be ordered.
Particularly in Mainz and the winemaking region Rheinhessen the lack of tasting opportunities may well have to do with the anachronistic notion that wine is made to be drunk, not to be tasted. That was, still is, the view of an older generation of wine drinkers – matching a generation of winemakers that produced bulk wines. Why bother with tasting if you have your favourite wine? ‘Schnutetunker’, literally: the one who dips his schnoz, used to be the term to lable the posh taster. Interestingly the German language does not even have a proper word for ‘tasting flight’.
Yet, with now a new generation of German winemakers taking the helm and producing a myriad of wonderful wines there needs to be a change in the way wine is offered to consumers. Particularly newer winebars should take the lead and offer tasting flights to those curious or simply undecided.
At the recently opened wineBANK in Mainz I recently had the pleasure to fool around with a wine-by-the glass dispenser (pictured, the dispenser that is, not me), which is pouring three tasting sizes from a double sip to a proper 10 cl glas. Good fun that was. But putting technology aside, landing tasting flights in Mainz could be as easy as offering a weekly set, nicely displayed on a paper placemat in front of an happy oenophile.