Welcome to Pro-Sips, our new series sharing pro-tips from sommeliers and wine experts! There’s so much to learn and explore within the world of German wine – 13 distinct regions offering numerous wine varieties in a range of styles – so to help you get started, we’re bringing wine wisdom from the pros straight to you.
Amy Waller’s German Wine Pro-Tips
We interviewed Amy Waller, Sommelier and Group Sales Manager at France 44 Wine and Spirits in Minneapolis. Amy has had her roots in hospitality from the very beginning, working in her mother’s restaurant in rural Minnesota from a very young age. She’s washed dishes, worked a number of front-of-house positions at restaurants throughout the Twin Cities, and most recently was the wine director at Minneapolis farm-to-table restaurant The Bachelor Farmer before joining France 44.
Amy is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas, a founding board member and the outreach director with Twin Cities Somms, and currently pursuing her WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. She has an undying love for Riesling and believes that nothing is more magical than a good bottle shared at the table with friends.
Connect with Amy on Instagram at @theonlywallerofwine and read her Pro-Sips below!
Q1: How or why did you get into the wine industry, and at what point were you introduced to German wine?
I’ve been in hospitality my entire life and shifted to more of a wine focus about 10 years ago. I’d always loved the way that wine could connect people at the dinner table and I wanted to be a connector.
Fortunately, my job at The Bachelor Farmer introduced me to wide world of German wine. I had never seen so many German Rieslings on one list, let alone grape varieties with names like Scheurebe, Trollinger, Dornfelder and Silvaner. What an eye-opening experience!
Q2: What German wine variety or style do you think deserves more attention and why?
Hands down, German Sekt! I’m a SERIOUS fan of sparkling wine and most people don’t know how well Germany brings the goods when it comes to bubbles. In fact, they drink more bubbly per capita than any other country in the world, so they know a thing or two about making great sparkling wine. In Germany, it’s called Sekt and it can be made from several different grape varieties in a range of styles. This diversity offers something for everyone and provides great alternatives to Prosecco and Champagne. They’re high quality, refreshing, and offer endless food pairing options.
A couple favorites for me include Hild Elbling Sekt and Maximum Grünhäuser Riesling Sekt Brut.
Q3: What is an unusual German wine and food pairing you’ve tried that really works?
My most unusual German wine pairing was an off-dry German Spätburgunder Rosé with Flaming Hot Cheeto mac and cheese. The slight sweetness from the rosé balanced the spice from the Cheetos and the wine’s acid cut through the creamy mac and cheese. Completely unexpected and a wow pairing!
Q4: What are some tips you can share for wine lovers to keep in mind when shopping for German wine?
Two things for me here.
Don’t fear the Riesling. Seriously. German Riesling is the ultimate pairing wine, made in a wide variety of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet. There’s a Riesling for every occasion.
Also, don’t be scared off just because you don’t speak the language. These wines are out of this world, incredibly approachable and you’d hate to miss out, just because you can’t pronounce Trockenbeerenauslese.
Q5: Finally, for all the wine lovers out there, what’s your favorite pro-sip about wine that more people should know?
A5: Make wine an adventure. Don’t get stuck drinking the same thing every night of your life. You wouldn’t eat the same meal every day, right? If you’re less than adventurous, that’s ok! Get to know a wine professional at your local shop and ask them for recommendations or what they’re drinking right now.