Working in a restaurant taught me the basics about wine, but living in a wine region along the East Coast taught me to appreciate wine. Now that we're in Europe, I like to continue my wine education by seeking out wine from the different regions we visit or by going to local festivals and sampling what's on offer. When I'm at home, Mövenpick Weinkeller has become a reliable stand-by.
Two of our dear friends introduced us to Mövenpick Weinkeller several months ago when they invited us along to one of Mövenpick's tastings. Every couple of months the store owners set out a couple dozen bottles of wine for customers to try, usually based around a theme (German whites, Bordeaux, Champagne, etc.). You used to have to pay 20€ for a tasting glass, but these days the tasting is free. You simply walk in, get a glass and a booklet showcasing the wines, and move from one label to the next as you sample. Any wine that you don't like, you can dump your tasting into the refuse bucket. There's a water cooler in the corner to rinse out your glass and cups to fill with water to cleanse your palate. They also have several crusty loaves of bread from the Markthalle downtown for you to nibble on.
Yesterday we returned for their Große Weinprobe. They had a selection of wines from around the world, from sparkling to white to red. They always have two large tables separating the whites from the red, but they also have a smaller table with the more expensive wines. I was surprised when I first went to a tasting because I thought there was no way they would open an 80-100€ bottle of wine just to taste (and for free!), but they did.
In the end, though, it must work for business. I came away with several notes from the tasting, and we also purchased two favorites and one wine that was finally back in stock that we wanted to buy at a past tasting.
Here are some notes on our purchases:
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Chardonnay, 2012 (Washington, USA) -- I became familiar with Chateau Ste. Michelle back when I used to wait tables in the states. This chardonnay is rich and creamy with notes of tropical fruit. It was aged in oak barrels, which is probably why I like it so much. It's a great drinking chardonnay, but also pairs well with light pasta and seafood dishes.
Bodegas Alejandro Fernández, Tinto Pesquera, 2011 (Spain) -- We discovered this rich red on a past tasting at Mövenpick. Made entirely from tempranillo grapes, this semi-dry red has a nice balanced flavor with hints of dark plums and a long finish. Mövenpick recommends serving this wine with hard cheeses and grilled red meats.
Michele Chiarlo, Anniversario Moscato D'Asti, 2012 (Italy) -- This sweet dessert wine made it onto our list from a holiday tasting. Sadly, they ran out the day we first tried it since it was so popular, but they luckily had more in stock yesterday. It's not sticky-sweet like other moscato wines I've tried. Rather, it has a light, floral sweetness and a slight bubbly fizz on the tongue, making it dangerously delicious. Mövenpick recommends serving this wine with desserts.
As much as I'd like to have a cellar one day, it doesn't make much sense given our current space and budget (and inability not to drink wine as soon as we buy it). So while Mövenpick is great for our friends who buy by the case, it also works for us because we can shop somewhere with a large selection and only purchase a few bottles. Best of all, I've never felt like we're treated any differently for it. The staff is always very friendly and helpful, and will do what they can to find what you need.
Mövenpick Weinkeller has several locations around Germany, but the one we visit in Stuttgart is on Rotenwaldstraße 132. You can easily get there from Charlottenplatz by taking the U2 towards Botnang to the Herderplatz stop and walking down the hill about 5 minutes from there. You can also take the 44 bus at Dorotheenstraße to Westbahnhof (Schliefe) and it you'll be dropped off right in front of the store. When you go, be sure to pick up one of their yearly calendars so you you know when the next tasting is scheduled.