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I was spontaneously invited by my neighbour, on an ordinary working day, because my vegetable garden was at her disposal for weeks. She cooked and served zucchini gratin with gorgonzola instead of grated cheese, pasta and a tender organic veal platter.

But now I'm curious to know what the man of the house will serve with wine. In my opinion, no wine really goes well with gorgonzola vegetables. Because any wine that dares to compete with it would be "beaten to death" by the vegetables, the blue cheese and the many eggs. My neighbour is not a wine specialist, but he loves good wine, even subscribes to a wine magazine.

Bedtime escape: The Portugieser has driven me to the desk

Smiling, he fetches the corkscrew: "What I'm about to bring you, you've probably never drunk that either!" Then he sets about opening a bottle whose label is completely unknown to me. Of course, I immediately have to give my comment, a blind taste, so to speak.

"On the nose, clearly wood, but also blackberries, raspberries, some pepper. The eye registers a rather light, strongly purple-violet coloured wine, not a dark but peculiarly intense colour. Fresh on the palate, somewhat tart, reminiscent of ripe cherries, the wood still clearly perceptible, but well integrated. Medium finish, yet surprisingly fruity resonance..." What do I have in the glass?

Its colour% a deep% purple red

I can't classify the wine at all! But - and this is the amazing thing - it goes wonderfully with food. It doesn't fight with the courgette casserole, it doesn't enhance or change the pasta flavour, it sits neatly next to the fine veal.

Now, finally, the bottle comes to the table: Portugieser from the German wine region of Saale-Unstrut. I admit, at first I have to swallow twice; it's not clear to me whether the experience I've just had, surprise, innate curiosity or accumulated prejudices will finally prevail. I don't want to offend my neighbour and stammer something about a "not so highly rated" grape variety, about the northernmost wine-growing region in Germany, about the difficult combination with food.

I only drank one glass, mainly because I rarely pour wine with a meal at lunchtime, especially when I have to work in the afternoon.

Längricht" Vineyard Weischütz an der Weinstrasse% Saale-Unstrut
My neighbour has no idea what he has unleashed with his dining companion. I can't sleep: is it the full moon - it can't be the quality of the wine - or is it the new experience with a grape juice I don't know? In any case, I get up at four in the morning and start researching: Portugieser. Even then, the sources contradict each other: does it come from the East or did Baron von Fries really bring it from Porto to Bad Vöslau in Austria in 1772? But not only the origin is doubtful, also almost all characteristics are described differently. Some say "early to medium early", others "medium to late ripening variety". The colour also ranges from "mostly light red" to "colour-intensive with some burgundy". Only one thing is agreed upon: "a large part is processed into Portugieser Weißherbst".

Now to the small wine region of Saale-Unstrut, "north of the cultivation border". In its guide "through the best wineries in Germany", "Feinschmecker" devoted just four pages out of 374 to the wine-growing region, while "Gault-Millau Deutschland" manages 9 pages out of 736.

A glass enjoyed with a zucchetti gratin with Gorgonzola
What a world of vinophile boredom I have fallen into! I skim the ratings in the Wein-Plus wine guide and all my prejudices are confirmed: "passable (74), decent (75), passable (72), passable (72), good (79)" and a single "very good (83)". Finally, I find the ultimate verdict in the forum archive: "Portugieser is the traditional bread-and-butter wine..... Sure, there are also quite good ones, but actually..." the world doesn't need it.

Back to my own experience: the wine went well with the not simple but concise meal, even though it was not butterbread. In fact, it was an excellent match. And when I think about it in retrospect, hardly any other wine would have gone so well with it. The Portugieser was simply brilliant.

This morning, when the neighbour passed my house, I asked him for the bottle and - if available - for the rest of the wine. And so it happens that early in the morning, it is not yet eight o'clock, I have already emptied a glass. And I am still looking for the "mild and fruity red wine with soft tannins and a pleasant scent of violets". In contrast, I find a wine that is low in acidity but still strong, which goes well with blue cheese and - more and more clearly - shows its peppery note. With this judgement, I probably belong to a minority, just as the Portugieser and the Saale-Unstrut are minorities in the wine world. But I have always had a "heart" for minorities, because they are easily underestimated.

Yours sincerely, Peter


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