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Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Wine -- just one important German export commodity

By Stephan Kuven

German wine is an important export commodity and is consumed in more than 100 countries the world over. The "German Wine Information Service, Taiwan" (GWIST) was created in 2001 to represent the German Wine Institute in Taiwan. This was one important step to make German wine better known in Taiwan. To achieve this purpose the "German Wine Information Service" comes twice a year with information and promotional material about German wine. With the improvement of communication between German wine suppliers and Taiwanese importers and programs for German wine professionals, the GWIST performs another major task.

And there is a good reason to be interested in German wine. The German wine industry is investing significantly in quality. The introduction of two new classification terms (Classic and Selection) with the 2000 vintage has seen the industry taking steps to simplify its labeling and become much more consumer-driven. More modern packaging is also helping to raise the profile of German wines.

German wines also differ from wines of other countries -- it's light, lively and fruity. There is no 'uniform' type or style of German wine. In fact this diversity is reflected in Germany's 13 wine-growing regions. There are nearly 100 grape varieties grown in normal and/or experimental vineyards. Of these, about two dozen are of commercial importance, above all, Riesling and Muller-Thurgau, which account for 43 percent of Germany's vineyards. Nearly 7.5 percent of the vineyard area is planted with Spatburgunder or Pinot Noir, making it the most important red wine grape in Germany. The main targets for export in 2003 are the UK, the Netherlands, USA and Japan. To promote wine in Taiwan the GWIST has arranged several activities in Taiwan, such as wine tasting, wine dinners, press conferences, as well as German Week, which is organized in cooperation with an important Taiwanese department store chain.

According to new ways of creating cooking, the old rule, which dictates "red wine with dark meat" and "white wine with light meat," is no longer taken seriously. And even Chinese cuisine has rich varieties. In Taiwan, seafood is very popular and it has particularly a successful harmonious partnership with German wine.

International experts agree that daily intakes of up to 24g of alcohol for a healthy woman and up to 32g for a healthy man are within recommended levels. In other words, up to 0.3-liters/10oz for a woman and 0.3-liters/13.5oz for a man, consuming a German wine with about 10 percent alcohol by volume (80g/liter). Both healthy people and those at risk of cardiovascular disease can benefit from moderate wine consumption.

In fact red wine could boost enzyme activity to slow decline in old age. Resveratrol is one of a group of chemicals called polyphenols and they are found in red wine. Previous research has suggested that these can protect against heart disease and osteoporosis in humans. "It may not be just a longer life -- it may also be a healthier one," says David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who led the research.

Despite devastating flood damage in Europe in 2002, the microclimate in the main German vineyard regions was a mixture of moisture and warmth -- ideal conditions for the wines. 2002 promises to be yet another truly memorable vintage.

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