CHOCOLATE and SAUERKRAUT (2) - Wine Underground
Wine is cool, at least I think it is, but wine events are usually not that cool. Some have the tone of hushed reverence, more of a wine church than a place to talk and taste and experience the pleasures of alcohol. Other events are so crowded with people trying to mooch free wine that they seem more like Las Vegas buffets than an actual wine tasting. Standing next to a group of Midwestern women in oversized sweatshirts and baseball caps while they ask for another sample of “the sweet wine,” does not put me in a good mood. I much prefer an underground affair with people that really love wine but also know how to have a good time.
Saturday night, at the Bockbierbrauerei in Kreuzeberg, six floors underground the wine event of my wildest dreams took place. It was organized by Viniculture and the winemakers in attendance were from a loose coalition known as Sudpfalz Connexion. There were 30 different wines to taste, a dj spinning Afro beat and soul music, and crisp flammkuchen to munch on. For 5 euros, you could visit Stuart Pigott in a bunker, marvel at his head to toe patent leather, taste wines from his personal collection and help Berliner Aidshilfe at the same time.
The first wine I tasted was a 2006 Scheu Riesling-Sekt. It was full of popcorn, strawberries and tangy little bubbles. Next, I was on to the 2006 Gies-Duppel Riesling Rotliegendes—one of those whites that made me absolutely starving the second I took a sip. So I waited in line and was delighted by the pairing of dry mineral-rich Riesling with the salty, creamy and smoky ham flavors of the flammkuchen.
The enormous wine cellar was lit by plenty of small iridescent lights, casting a rainbow glow on the wide stone columns that led to vaulted ceilings. People sat on wine crates or stood around industrial strength heaters dispersed throughout the room. On the central wall, a video instillation depicted a very baroque table set with lobster, champagne, and tulips. Every ten minutes or so, a giant chandelier would crash onto this video still-life and the room would crackle with the sound of breaking crystal—a fantastic sound to be sure, and the destruction of such a pompous gastronomic table reinforced the feeling that here underground, we were all part of the new wine revolution.
The night raved on and I began to loose track of Spatburgunders and Grauer Burgunders but the music was right and people started to dance, wine swilling in their glasses, cigarettes hanging off their fingers. We were a motley crew of wine revelers and the dance styles displayed everything from 80’s post-punk pogo style, to salsa moves, to ass shaking funk. At four in the morning the party finally died down and I began to get an inkling of what my head would feel like the next day.
On the walk home, I tried to figure out what it is about cellars that make people less inhibited. Why was it that all the best parties I’ve ever been to were underground? At least for the Viniculture party, I think the dark cellar environment was the perfect foil for dissuading the ultra stuffy wine snobs from joining. Let them drink their wine on sunny Tuscan terraces; I’ll take mine where the sun don’t shine.