Alexander Kohnen lets the straw-yellow Blanc de Noir circling in the wine glass with zest and prompts the camera: “Take a small sip and determine whether you have a dry wine or a semi-dry one.
You can tell by the tip of your tongue. "
The owner of the International Wine Institute Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler explains that more acid is noticeable in the flow of saliva that flows out at the edges of the tongue.
What a cool idea that at the same time a few hundred people are pouring a Blanc de Noir over the tip of their tongue with me at the same time and find out what it all triggers in the mouth.
Like me, all of these people had three bottles brought home from winemakers in the Ahr region.
Now the fine wines stand like a battery with glasses next to their computers, tablets and Co. and wait for the supervised online drink.
Welcome to the brave new world of digital wine tasting.
Online wine tastings are trendy and are becoming more popular every day due to the pandemic.
The German Wine Institute (DWI) has already listed 160 winegrowers from the 13 German wine-growing regions and organizers of virtual wine tastings in a list of providers who organize online tastings.
Vintners were surprised by the response
“Many winemakers were surprised by the great response.
I even think the online wine tastings are here to stay, ”says DWI spokesman Ernst Büscher.
He has observed how wineries and winegrowers' cooperatives have professionalized themselves like a rocket - both in terms of equipment and presentation.
Co-moderation alternates with sample sips and videos about work steps in the vineyard and cellar, chat functions allow questions that are answered live.
The online tastings are mostly streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Clubhouse.
Often the wine tastings remain on the network.
“You can continue the tasting at a later point in time if you don't want to taste all the wines in one evening or if you meet up with friends again for a wine tasting,” explains Büscher.
This also applies to the wine discovery seminar on the Ahr wines, where you learn that it was nuns who brought the wine into the narrow valleys along the small river Ahr.
Tastings thrive on stories about wine
According to Büscher, it is precisely the stories of the winegrowers about their grapes and grape varieties on which the online tastings live.
By the way, there are often plenty of tips on how to approach a wine.
"If you smell into the glass without being swiveled, you first get what is pure, what evaporates first," says Alexander Kohnen about the Blanc de Noir.
That is mostly the aroma that comes from the vineyard and the grape.
Owner of the International Wine Institute Alexander Kohnen (left) and winemaker Peter Kriechel guide you through the digital wine tasting
“When I swing, the warm air hits the glass floor.
The oxygen pulls upwards and the aromas can dock, ”explains Kohnen, turning the glass in his hand.
The shape of the glass also does something for the wine.
For a Blanc de Noir, the Ahr expert recommends glasses with a small tip: “This has the advantage that the coolness remains in the glass for a long time.” A narrow rim of the glass in turn determines the flow speed at which the wine reaches the tip of the tongue meets.
Which dishes go well with which wine?
Recommendations as to which food goes with which drink are also practical.
With the Blanc de Noir, for example, Kohnen immediately thinks of two things about guinea fowl.
So breast and legs, with leaf salads with a raspberry and grapefruit dressing.
A dry aged ribeye with Pinot Noir, also a lime butter, caramelized carrots and fried potatoes.
Such recommendations are not entirely unimportant if you want to order more of your wine discovery later.
You should also talk about money: the actual tasting events are free.
However, you have to pay for the wine.
Depending on the number of bottles to be discussed, you should generally expect 40 to 60 euros.
Sometimes winemakers also offer trial prices.
Have cheese, white bread and plums ready
There are now also virtual tastings that are coupled with gourmet packages - either for pre-cooking directly to the tasting or with direct deliveries from partner restaurateurs, reports Ernst Büscher.
In preparation for food-free tastings, he recommends having a bit of white bread and cheese ready for in between.
Rather soft cheese with white and preferably mountain cheese with red wine.
Plums and dates wrapped in bacon are also good companions for wines.
“I would advise against spicy nuts.
This distracts the taste, ”explains the wine expert.
And he has another valuable tip: “Good glasses are also worthwhile.
A wine tastes much more intense from a thin-walled glass with a tulip-shaped goblet than from a simple water glass. "
Chill white and rosé wines in good time
It should not be forgotten to keep the rosé and white wines at a good temperature and to let the red wines breathe well in advance of the tasting, says Ernst Büscher.
If that only occurs to you when the tasting begins, the experience is unfortunately clouded.
While other participants rave in the chat that they are reminiscent of the elegant aromas of a classic ballet dancer, the forgetful finds the wine clumsy and boring.
At wine tastings with several hundred participants, a moderator usually summarizes the questions and comments.
This often gives the event its very own dynamic.
It happens that the proportion of steep slopes or the advantages of cultivation on slate is still discussed, but the moderator intervenes: "There are more and more inquiries about whether you should pour yourself?"
In any case, free gifts should be given at the next twelve wine discovery seminars on other German wine-growing regions, which will follow monthly until March 2022.
For Ernst Büscher, these and other virtual wine tastings have the advantage that you can test yourself with drops from distant wineries - without leaving the house.
And the greatest advantage: "With online tasting, the otherwise tiresome question does not arise: And who goes back afterwards?"
Digital for wine connoisseurs: A look behind the scenes of an online wine tasting with Alexander Kohnen, owner of the International Wine Institute (left) and winemaker Peter Kriechel