A savvy observer of Orlando’s wine scene might notice a preponderance of tastings this month and next featuring wines from Germany and Bordeaux – at least thirteen events at twelve Central Florida restaurants and wine bars, to be exact.
Germany and Bordeaux don’t exactly leap to mind as natural partners – they’re no Spain and Portugal or Germany and Austria. So how did independent establishments like Swirlery, Tim’s Wine Market Avalon Park, Luisa’s Cellar, and The Parkview decide to feature them together?
Far from an uncanny coincidence, these events are part of an $8.6 million promotional campaign funded in large part by the European Union. The German and Bordeaux wine councils teamed up to win the EU grant, which is helping to pay for an extensive three-year marketing push focusing on about a dozen US cities.
Florida is home to four of the target markets – Orlando, Miami, Tampa-St. Pete, and Jacksonville. The rest are in South Carolina, Georgia, California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Orlando holds a special status in the campaign – our resident Master of Wine and WSET instructor Jean Reilly is its National Education Director.
“If you look at sales, area under vine, and volume, [Germany and Bordeaux] are very comparable in size,” Reilly said, explaining why these seemingly disparate regions would choose to work together.
Plus, she pointed out, “they don’t compete.”
“When was the last time you were debating between a Kabinett and a Pauillac?” she asked, referring to a light, usually off-dry German wine on the one hand and a full-bodied, cabernet sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux on the other.
The marketing campaign is called “Clink Different,” emphasizing its attempt to get wine consumers to go beyond what they know – or think they know – about these two regions.
The idea is not just to introduce Americans to German and Bordeaux wines, but also to challenge common stereotypes. Things like …
“All German wines are sweet.”
“All Bordeaux wines are impossibly expensive.”
That points to another reason the joint promotion makes sense, Reilly says.
“Each region is known for one kind of wine – light whites in Germany and powerful reds in Bordeaux,” she said. Both regions “want people to understand the breadth of their offering … like reds from Germany, dry whites from Bordeaux, [and] the great sparkling wines that are made in both regions.”
In addition to tastings and specials at restaurants and bars around the area, Reilly has designed a series of masterclasses for wine professionals. She’ll lead the Florida sessions herself, including one in Orlando later this month.
Seeing and Tasting for Ourselves
The campaign is also helping wine professionals from the target markets experience Germany and Bordeaux for themselves. Over its three-year run, the campaign will sponsor about 30 trips to the regions for sommeliers, wine retailers, distributors, and media.
Earlier this month, I was part of the second “Clink Different” press trip, which focused on the new generation of winemakers and wine professionals who are making their mark in the two regions. I returned to Orlando energized by the fresh faces and enthusiastic voices of more than two dozen young winemakers and winery leaders.
Did the trip change my ideas about the wines of Germany and Bordeaux?
Well, I didn’t start out thinking all German wines were sweet or all Bordeaux wines were big, unaffordable reds. I love dry German riesling, both still and sparkling, and it was a moderately priced white Bordeaux that shook me out of my “Only Red Wine” phase many years ago.
But, yes, of course there were new discoveries, and I’ll share them in a later post.
For now, though, I encourage you Orlando wine lovers to get out and experience the wines of Germany and Bordeaux for yourself at one (or more) of the remaining Clink Different events this month. Several of them are listed on the Calendar Page, and more will be added in the days to come.
Cheers to making some new discoveries for yourself!