German Wine

[quote=“Bob Honest”]But if you want an inspiring drop on your tongue, lively and fresh, try the German Whites. A Riesling, dry or medium or even sweet is always a good selection. Makes more alive, not tired like a heavy Red.

Or the *aner choices, of whose the musky Silvaner is most popular. One of my favourites, unless I am rather depressed, then a Rivaner with its slight cheese backflavour is just right for me.

A white Burgunder never got me going, but it is nice for any occasion.

Hmmmm a dry (!) Riesling Spaetlese, Sweet and sour at the same time.
Seldomly to be found though.[/quote]

I’m quoting from another thread that was called anger something. I’m going to be experimenting with German wine for awhile. I used to drink it back before I knew any better, but now I want to see if I can find anything that tastes remotely like what I remember.

My first foray was from Costco. It is a Riesling Spaetlese for 339NT. I found it to be really too sweet. It gave me heartburn. I know that a Spaetlese is made from over-ripe grapes that have a higher sugar content, but it doesn’t always mean sweeter. I might be sticking to a Kabinett from now on.

I am in Germanz now. What do zou need to know apart from the f

There are some absolutely excellent German Wines available in Taiwan. Try the foodcourt in the Miramar shopping complex (the one with the ferry wheel). Good ones trade for about 700-900 a bottle, anything cheaper than 500 is usually rubbish. As you found out, if sweet wine is hell, Spaetlese is it’s headquarters.

I am in the act of starting a little business importing German wine. It will start off really small with three or four different ones from only one producer, and then see how it goes. Volume is going to be low in the beginning, just enough to start off.

If you are still into German wine in a couple of months or so, drop me a line. I am in Taichung, but I will definitely try and organise some wine tasting in Taipeh, too.

To Rice T, Weiss on AnHo Sec 2 started trying to specialize in German white wines, but realised they had to broaden their product range as German whites were so unpopular in Taiwan.

Thanks jambo. I know, white wine isn’t exactly popular in Taiwan. Yet, I dare to say. Red wine wasn’t either not so long ago. Anyway, as I m not trying to make a living on it for the moment, that is not such a big issue for me at the moment.

Do you have the exact address of Weiss? I’d like to go and have a chat with them.

Actually, I’ll be in Taipeh over the weekend and I’d like to go to as many wineshops as possible. So far I only know the supermarket in 101, the wine shop in Eslite bookstore, a little wineshop at Roosevelt/Hsinhai next to Bushiban Pub.

Where is the Miramar shopping complex (what is it in Chinese?)

Any help in finding the best wineshops in Taipei would be appreciated.

It’s in Neihu. Can’t miss it, just look out for the ferris wheel (Riesenrad).


Respectfully, you are on a hiding to nothing with this one. What you are proposing to do goes completely counter to the evolution of wine consumption in Asia. In short, it went something like this: Hardly anything to sweet white (Germany) to medium-sweet to medium to dry trading up to higher level dry (e.g. Chablis) to New World dry (e,g, Chardonnay at the expense of Chablis & Burgundy) to experimentation with Sauvignon Blanc etc. Around the time of the transition to dry white, sales of red wine began to grow primarily with ‘brands’ e.g. Mouton Cadet to ‘other’ French to fuller-bodied French to New World Reds (e.g. Cabernet) to experimentation with Merlot etc. French wines have been particularly hard hit with the value aspect of New World Wines, first Australia, then California and now Chile. The French try to counter this with 'country wines (Vins de Pays etc.) but are failing as the New World still offers better value.

German wines have been in a freefall decline in Asia for well over fifteen years and they simply do not represent i) value for money or ii) consumer preference. There does exist a niche market for some top-end Ausleses and Trockenbeerenausleses but I hazard a guess that the total consumption per annum here of such wines will amount to no more than a dozen or two cases. Even attempts by German producers such as Deinhard to sell drier wines in the early nineties failed as they tried to stop the rapid decline of their Green Label brand for example. Additionally, the reputation of German wines has been irreperably tarnished by such mediocre products as Blue Nun and the ubiqutous Liebfraumilch.

Even in mature western markets such as the UK, German wines are at entry level for consumers (or at least they used to be) but as tastes develop, consumption patterns are not dissimilar to that I describe above. Though slightly behind in the evolutionary race with regard to preference and taste, Asia will soon be on a par with Western Europe, the United States and the southern hemisphere countries in terms of sophistication despite the periodic and noble attempts by some critics and producers to resurrect the status of the Riesling grape.

Feel free to contact me if you need any further information or help, but as I said, you won’t succeed in this unless you know exactly what you are doing and have a viable database of customers. Not only that but payment terms will result in you having a negative cashflow and way too much capital tied up in a product that simply does not sell.

I have seen people do this sort of thing way too many times and you really should take a reality check on this venture.

Best Regards,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

I so agree. I won’t touch the French stuff anymore. But the Cali and Chile wines? Can’t get enough of them. Burp…literally.

I don’t know much about wine, but I knows what I likes.

Well for something a bit more reasonable with that Rhine wine flavor without the sweetness try Hafner (Austrian) Gruner Veltliner or White Cuvee. It’s got Rhine grassiness with none of the sugar and it costs only NT$280 per bottle at Wellcome.

German white wines have no future anywhere outside the country though. It is a market that I cannot see developing even in Germany, much less here in Asia particularly at the prices they are selling for. I for one am not willing to spend more than NT$400 for a typical Rhine wine. The average not very exciting stuff goes for as has been mentioned on this thread for NT$700 to NT$900, which to me is getting up there. Given that you can get New World wines of much better value for nearly less than half the price, what’s the advantage.

Two thumbs down on German wine. Swiss is even worse.

Where can one find good Californian wines around Taipei? I see nothing but French, French and more French stuff, mixed in with quite a few Australian and even fewer Chilean stuff.

I really miss Californian wines.


I am no fan of California Cabernets but the Zinfandel (red) is some of the best in the world. Where to buy? Hmmm. Don’t know but you could try Breeze basement shopping center or even Makro. Another option might be Jason’s at the World Trade Center 101 basement 1

Dear Bob,

Thank you very much indeed for your valuable comments, which are highly appreciated. I was meant to reply immediately, but I was on a business trip at the time.

I am aware of most of what you are saying in your post, I am targeting a tiny niche market for dry German whites. I am not investing a huge amount of money upfront and consider the whole project a test balloon. If it fails, I haven’t lost a lot of money, if I have the feeling that it would be worth continuing, I will try to carefully expand the business.

I know about the image of German white wine. There was and still is a lot of crap on the market. The German wine business is by definition conservative, but there is also a new generation of winemakers on the rise and they are not following all the old traditions.

All of the traditional wine regions had and still have to go undergo changes, question the way they make and market wine. If you keep your eyes open, yout will find German dry whites that have nothing to do with are excellent value for money in all price regions.

The new world has in my opinion not too much to offer in that market segment with the obvious exception of New Zealand. You simply cannot compare an Australian Chardonnay or a Sauvignon from Chili with a German Riesling. In fact you can’t compare Riesling with Chardonnay at all.

Well, I won’t try to convince anybody. But as soon as my first shipment has arrived I would be pleased to arrange a little Forumosa wine tasting event so everybody can judge him/herself. I’ll keep you posted.

And Fred, having gained some knowledge about wine import,you can’t really expect to get a “decent” bottle of wine below a certain price range. The maximum you can get is “nice”. Your comment about “Rhine grassiness”, ah well, forget it…

Such as?

Fair enough.

If they are dry, I wouldn’t mind coming.

Why not? I find Hafner “decent” and it sells for merely NT$290 or less at Wellcome depending on where you buy the White Cuvee or the Gruener Veltliner. I find them very nice wines and I appreciate the price. I would be willing to pay up to NT$500 for the Gruener Veltliner for example.

I am not sure what you mean by your definition but I have a fair bit of wining and dining experience. I don’t know how you would differentiate “nice” and “decent” but would be happy to have that clarified.

How do you describe the typical smell and taste that is unique to German Rhine wines? What would you call that nose? that flavor on the mouth? I am not sure that grassy is far off unless you are talking about non-dry German wines in which case you would get apple (lots of it) and maybe pear and other such sweet flavors, but as I have mentioned earlier, if those are the Rieslings that you are marketing, I find even those unbearably sweet and only tolerable if matched with Chinese food (salty, oily removes some of the sugar or at least balances it out) but I find that to sit during dinner and drink the usual bottle means a very uncomfortable feeling with most German whites.

Anyway, I would be curious to see what you have on offer but again I would never pay NT$700 to NT$900 for a German Riesling. I can get that same “essence” that would make me crave a German white with the Hafner at NT$290 or less a bottle. That is just me and my personal tastes. Now, I would gladly shell out NT$600 to NT$1,100 for the right Argentine Malbec, California Zinfandel, Italian Sangiovese or Cape Cabernet and occasionally don’t mind quaffing others much more expensive French varieties though I am really only willing to shell out NT$2,000 per bottle in the case of champagne, but that is just me.