Welcome to Pro-Sips, a 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.
Jeff Marazoni’s German Wine Pro-Tips
We interviewed Jeff Marazoni, Analytics & Trade Marketing Manager of Loosen Bros. USA, the sole U.S. importer of the wines of celebrated Riesling producer Ernst Loosen as well as select quality producers around the globe. In his current position, Jeff provides indispensable behind-the-scenes sales and administrative support for regional sales directors, as well as in-depth analysis for business planning.
Jeff has had a career in wine for almost 20 years, previously working at Rudi Wiest Selections in a variety of roles for 15 years. A real family man, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters, taking road trips and doing anything beach-island-lake-river related. At play and work, he loves helping people out of their wine comfort zones.
Connect with Jeff on Instagram at @jeffmarazoni and read his Pro-Sips below!
Q1: How or why did you get into the wine industry, and at what point were you introduced to German wine?
Growing up in an Italian family, there was always a carafe of red and a carafe of white wine on the table during family gatherings and holidays, so the curiosity of wine and food pairing started early. In my college days, a good friend of mine had a father in the wine industry specializing in German wines. When other college friends might have been hanging out around the beer keg, I was asking about all the bottles in the fridge and getting a crash course on the German Prädikat system. Even some of my college business projects included solving problems for the German wine importing company Rudi Wiest Selections.
Q2: For consumers new to German wine, where or how do you recommend they start their discovery? What varietal or style would you recommend as an introduction?
I’d recommend anyone new to German wine to try at least a few varietals to gain an understanding of the diversity that German wines offer; they’re all at a high quality level and generally outstanding quality-to-price ratio. My go-to varietals are Pinot Blanc, Spätburgunder (red & rosé), and of course, Riesling!
To gain an understanding of the great range of styles German Rieslings are capable of, I highly recommend picking up a few styles of Riesling to taste side-by-side. Compare Rieslings that are dry (trocken), medium-dry (halbtrocken), off-dry (feinherb), and some with residual sugar. If you look at a bottle on the shelf and aren’t sure of the style of Riesling, check the alcohol level. In general, a wine with 12% or more will be dry, approximately 10-11% will be medium dry, and 9% or under will have a perception of sweetness.
Q3: In your opinion, what sets German wines apart from other country’s or region’s wines?
Expanding on my response to the previous question, the range of style German Rieslings can achieve can’t be replicated anywhere in the world. Where else can the same grape be made into world-class wines in a bone-dry dry style to a lusciously sweet dessert wine and everything in between? The transparency of Riesling is able to show off the beautiful terroirs of the regions of Germany, which is quite incredible as well. Being this transparent is “risky” for Riesling, as any flaws or missteps in the vineyard or cellar can be detected quite easily. For the great Rieslings of Germany to be able to perform as they do every vintage – challenging or not, hot or cool – really proves how world class they are!
Q4: What is one of the most exciting trends or changes you’ve seen within German wine over the years?
For me, a very exciting trend over the past decade or two is the gaining popularity of Dry Rieslings. Even the wines that are wildly successful with some residual sugar are getting drier year over year. This is great for food pairing as the wines are so versatile. Interesting to note, the wines consumed domestically in Germany are nearly all dry!
The high end dry wines, designated as Grosses Gewächs (GG), are also gaining popularity as they become more understood. At this point, all of the GG’s we offer sell out, and we cannot get enough to satisfy demand throughout the year. This is a “GGreat” sign!
Q5: Finally, for all the wine lovers out there, what’s your favorite pro-sip about wine that more people should know?
Your decanter is not only for red wines! Don’t be afraid to decant white wines as well. Especially dry wines with a significant ripeness, such as the aforementioned GG wines and wines made in a reductive style, all benefit greatly from decanting. If you open a bottle and the nose is a bit shy, pour it into your favorite decanter and after even 15 minutes, you will be amazed at how you just brought your wine to life. Cheers!