Shoppers need to be clear about what they expect from a wine.It's important to know how I plan to drink the wine, said Peter Rotthaus , director of the Federal Association of German Wine Cellars and Wine Sales, here.
It makes a difference, for example, if the wine is to accompany a meal or is to be enjoyed with a good cigar beside the fireplace.
Then there is the question of what to drink. A shopper has to decide whether they prefer red or white, dry or sweet wine.
'Of course, it also depends upon personal tastes, whether it should be a slightly tart Riesling or rather something a little bubbly to go with asparagus,' said Rotthaus.
Wine connoisseurs will also have a preference for a certain wine region, 'a red from Ahr maybe or a Riesling from Mosel'.
Riesling is by far the favourite of German white wines followed by Mueller-Thurgau and Sylvaner. Spaetburgunder is the most popular red wine although Dornfelder is gaining popularity.
Actually, less than half the wine sold in Germany comes from the country's vineyards.
'No other producing country imports as much wine as we do,' said Rotthaus.
'he fact that a lot is purchased from overseas is tied up with emotions.' According to Rotthaus, many customers associate French or Italian wine with certain lifestyles.
The fact that the same wine can have different names proves his point. One of the more popular red wines, 'pinot noir' sounds more elegant than simply calling it 'burgundy' or 'Spaetburgunder' in Germany.
It's the same with the popular 'pinot grigio', a term which more strongly evokes vacations in southern Europe than simply saying white wine or in German 'grauer burgunder'.
If you are not an expert, but have decided to give wine a try, Rotthaus advises buying just one bottle.
'Because opening and sampling is the only way to find out if a wine tastes good.' The question of price is also an issue for most customers.
'ne cannot decide solely based on price, but it is definitely an indicator.'Yet discount markets have many a good wine also.
Given the current situation, 2005 promises to be a good wine year, according to Rotthaus.