A taste of Germany

Germans may know how to kick a ball, but what do they know about eating and drinking? On the eve of the World Cup, Olly Smith finds there's more to the Teutonic table than bratwurst, lager and Liebfraumilch

Aaaah Germany... The country that brought us the VW Beetle, Bauhaus and the collapsible umbrella. And this year, it is hosting the World Cup. We know - to our cost - that Germany has a national side that can hold its own with the world's best. But can Germany kick it when it comes to food and drink?

In a word: Ja!

For years, there has been the perception in the UK that German wine is poor quality. But recently things have changed. "Germany noticed too late that people's tastes had moved on from sugary wine," says Carola Fischer from the German Wine Institute. "Today young winemakers are sharing tips, they listen, talk to each other and are responding to the market."

These days, there are styles to suit many palates and the value for money can be simply astonishing. But you'll have to get in quick, sales are up and the secret's out - last year, German wine exports increased by 10 per cent, reaching a value of €475m (£320m) - which surely has to be the highest level since 1985 when Marillion's "Kayleigh" reached No2 in the charts. Aaaah... such happy memories.

The winemakers I met on my recent safari into the Land of Hasselhoff seemed well chuffed with the profile boost brought by the World Cup and one such happy chappy is Gerhard Gutzler of Weingut Gutzler in the Rheinhessen. On first meeting Gutzler, he towered over me and bellowed "Lilly!" I was about to answer in my best Bavarian falsetto - anything to appease his brooding strength - but that wasn't what Gutzler was after. A sheepdog - Lilly - appeared at Gutzler's feet as he swilled wine around his mouth before spitting it high into the air. Lilly sprang like a lion about to seize an eagle from the sky, snatched the wine into her chops and crashed to floor like a hairy meteorite. I sat in silent shock, gasping, my nostrils flaring like windsocks. I knew instantly that Lilly was a winemaker trapped inside the body of a dog. And, curiously, the more I looked at her, the happier she seemed. (omega)

But it isn't just the winemakers and their dogs that should feel proud. German breweries have a lot to shout about too. Indeed, if you love beer, Germany is heaven. The styles are widespread, the laws governing the quality of German beers are second to none and the production is prolific - at Munich's Oktoberfest alone, more than 5m litres of foaming joy are guzzled, with more than 4,000 different brands covering 40 varieties.

In the town of Mallersdorf, Sister Doris is Germany's sole nun brewer and has been brewing beer since 1966. She is a delightful puzzle of a woman. On the one hand, well, a nun, and on the other, a jolly beer drinker with an encyclopaedic knowledge of beer and brewing.

"Every profession has a joker in the pack," she chuckles, "Well, that's me".

Her face features on the labels of all her beers and she muses that "everyone who drinks my beer is sort of kissing me. And I enjoy that." It has to be said that Sister Doris's beer is jolly splendid. As for the kissing, you be the judge.

With the infectious laughter of Sister Doris still ringing in my ears, I meet up with Joachim Oertels of www.germanfoods.co.uk who has the unenviable job of persuading Brits to expand their experience of German food and drink. Tough brief? Not for Oertels. He reminds me of Gandalf - a measured, twinkling and persuasive guide, careful not to over-hype, preferring instead to encourage exploration.

"My mission is to overcome the stereotypes that people have with German food," he says. "We produce amazing ham from the Black Forest, Cambozola, goat's cheeses and regional breads."

Here, in the UK, we're already big importers of brand names such as Becks, Dr Oetker and Müller but Oertels wants the British to explore German specialities further and be more adventurous. "UK customers are usually very international in their tastes and we want to accommodate this interest."

To make his point, Oertels introduces me to a new movement in German cooking spearheaded by the so-called Junge Wilde (the young wild): a gang of young spunky maverick chefs. The Junge Wilde pride themselves on their rather quirky approach and developing unusual flavours. The movement was founded by super-confident celebrity chef Holger Stromberg. Stromberg appears regularly on German television and there's no doubting his passion. "When people are hungry," he declares, "this is when I rock." I press Stromberg on the concept of being a Junge Wilde over lunch at his Munich restaurant named simply G - what happens when he turns 70? Will he still qualify as a Junge Wilde? "If you are crazy and 70, why not? I want to die as a chef." As long as it's not in my soup, fine.

The proof is in the pudding - actually the main course: fillet of pike perch with a smoked shrimp crust, potato-espuma and rhubarb. The perch was cooked to perfection and the recommended wine a surprisingly successful match - the 2003 Black Print from Klaus Schneider. Holger and his head chef Andreas Schweiger clearly love their work and are inspired to create new dishes by listening to ear-bleeding punk music. Only in Germany. As we part Schweiger proffers me his most charming grin and croons amiably "Remember, the love is on the plate."

So, German food and booze, worthy of the World Cup? You bet. There's stacks to discover and perhaps most exciting of all, I discovered that the word for the final whistle in a game of football is Schlusspfiff. Which is also exactly the same sound made by my collapsible umbrella. Genius.

To sign up for Olly Smith's free monthly email bulletin recommending top wines and high-street bargains, send a blank email to subscribe@hotbottle.co.uk

For more information on German food and wine visit

www.germanwines.de; www.germanbeerguide.co.uk; www.germanfoods.co.uk; to book a table at G visit www.g-munich.de

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game