Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hamburg's Red Light District and Wine

Picture: Hendrik Thoma, Lilo Wanders with Christian G.E.Schiller

I had the pleasure of participating in the production of one of Hendrik Thoma’s regular TVINO shows. This one was the debut TVINO Late Night show. TVINO is a very successful German version of Gary Vaynerchuck’s wine video show. The first TVINO Late Night Show was produced in Hamburg’s red light district and had very illustrious guests: a famous German travestite actor, a star sommelier from Berlin, and the owner of Hamburg’s top restaurant Old Commercial Room, who grew up in the red light district.

Picture: TVINO Late Night Show is Just Starting, Stephanie Doering in the Foreground and the 3 Star Guests in the Background

The Show is being released in 3 tranches. You can see them here.

Hendrik Thoma

Hendrik Thoma, the wine sommelier who has become a Web 2.0 sommelier, launched in collaboration with the wine retailer giant HAWESKO the internet TV series TVINO last year. There are on average two shows per week. With the backing of HAWESKO, they are very professionally done and very entertaining. Hendrik typically does the show either by himself, reviewing a couple of wines, or with a guest, tasting the wines with him or her. The guests have included such giant wine makers as the Antinori brothers from Italy, the German top wine maker H.O. Spanier from the Battenfeld Spanier Estate in Rheinhessen, and the French actor and super star Gerard Depardieu, who also produces wine.

Picture: Hendrik Thoma before the Show

This time, Hendrik introduced a new format, the TVINO Late Night Show: He was sitting with the three guests at a bar table for an hour and focused on each of them for about 20 minutes; only one of the guests was from the wine industry; there were about 30 people watching the show (I was one of them) and there was live music.

I have recently interviewed Hendrik Thoma via Skype. You can read the interview here and here.

Hamburg’s Red Light District St. Pauli

The show took place in Hamburg’s red light district St. Pauli. When I hear St. Pauli, several things come to my mind. First, it is a well known district of the city of Hamburg, Germany. Second, its soccer club, the FC St. Pauli has a long tradition and just qualified for Germany’s Bundesliga. Third, St. Pauli’s Reeperbahn has a long tradition as an amusement center. Hamburg has a big port and the Reeperbahn, the red-light district, is where the sailors were looking for amusement and relaxation. Prostitution is legal in Germany and this is the area, where you go, if you are looking for that kind of thing.

Picture: Hamburg's Red Light District

Fourth, there is not only sex at the Reeperbahn, but many other things. The Beatles lived and played in St. Pauli at the Star-Club before becoming famous. The singer and actor Hans Albers--the German Frank Sinatra--did the song "Auf der Reeperbahn Nachts um Halb Eins" (On the Reeperbahn half past midnight), which every German woman who is from that period can sing by heart.

Picture: Beatles at the Star Club in Hamburg

Fifth, ending on a personal note, a few years ago I spend a weekend in Hamburg with my son, just the two of us, first we saw Eintracht Frankfurt in a soccer match playing the HSV and then we saw amazing stuff at the Reeperbahn.

Restaurant Freudenhaus

The Restaurant Freudenhaus, which means "Brothel", is just in the middle of all this. This fun restaurant serves traditional German food with slightly naughty names. The interior is reminiscent of the more characteristic establishments of the district (red velvet, cupids on the wall), but it´s all in good humor. The food is excellent. You can get sinful schnitzel and kinky bratwurst, served with a pinch of irony. It also serves as the home of the St.Pauli Weinklub. I have reported about it here.

Pictures: Restaurant Freudenhaus Wirt Mathias Storm, Dirk Wuertz and Christian G.E.Schiller

Lilo Wanders

The undoubtedly most famous guest was Ernie Reinhardt, better know as Lilo Wanders, a famous German transvestite actor. From 1994 on until 2004 he was in his transvestite role as Lilo Wanders the host(es) of the German TV sex/erotic show Wa(h)re Liebe (a pun on true love and commodity love). He has described himself as being gay; nevertheless, he has a wife, two children and one foster child.

Pictures: Paul "Butche" Rauch, Billy Wagner, Lilo Wanders and Hendrik Thoma

Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner is the Sommelier of the Weinbar Rutz in Berlin. He has been in this position since June 2008, when he moved to Monkey's in Duesseldorf to Weinbar Rutz in Berlin. He is 28 and Berlin's sommelier of the year 2009. Whenever I am in Berlin, I try to stop at the Rutz Weinbar in the Chaussee Strasse 8 in Berlin-Mitte and enjoy their outstanding wines. Rutz Weinbar is not only a top wine bar—it is also a top restaurant and a top wine store, but I go their for the wine bar.

Pictures: Billy Wagner and Christian G.E.Schiller

Rutz Weinbar has an extensive wine list, about 1000 or so wines, largely from Germany and other European countries. For example, last time, Rutz offered 13 different wines from Weingut Kuenstler in Hochheim, Rheingau. The nice thing is that you can consume all wines for the wine-store- price plus a corkage fee of Euro 18. Winebar Rutz also has some excellent New World wines including about a dozen different vintages of Opus One.

You can also eat at the bar from the exciting bar menu; I love the “Rinderroulade” — a German specialty. The kitchen and the main part of the restaurant, including an outside deck, are on the second floor. The restaurant is one of the best in Berlin, with 1 Michelin star and 16 Gault Millau points. Chef Marcus Mueller offers a number of 5/6 courses menus for between Euro 55 and 105; you can also eat a la carte for Euro 20 to 30 per course.

I have written about Wein Bar Rutz here.

Paul “Butche” Rauch

He owns and runs the Old Commercial Room. This restaurant, founded in 1643, at the foot of St. Michael’s Church is so tied into Hamburg maritime life that many residents consider it the premier sailors' stopover. It is known in town for its Labskaus (sailor's hash), a local speciality of corned beef, potatoes, herring and beetroot;; if you order it, you're given a numbered certificate proclaiming you a genuine Labskaus eater. Fish dishes often include salted herring and roasted wild salmon. The restaurant's name speaks of the historic mercantile links between Hamburg and England.

Picture: Lilo Wanders, Paul "Butche" Rauch and Hendrik Thoma

Dirk Wuertz and his “Mein Wein”

Among the guests watching the show was also Dirk Wuertz. He poured his new wine “Mein Wein” for us.

Dirk Wuertz is an enigmatic winemaker from Rheinhessen in Germany, who exports a large part his wines to the US. Dirk is also one of the leading figures in Germany’s Web 2.0 scene. In January, Dirk launched his own internet TV show “100 Grad Oechsle”, the format of which is not very different from Hendrik Thoma’s TVINO Late Night Show.

My first indirect contact with Dirk was last year at the New York City top wine bar “Ten Bells” in lower Manhattan, where they sell his wine. It was a 2008 Riesling trocken "Bag in the Box" wine. Bag in a box wines are not yet very popular both in Germany and the US, but are rapidly gaining friends. Bag in a box wines – in a resealable plastic bag in a cardboard box – have many advantages. Unlike a bottle, which goes bad after a few days even when you pump the air out or spray preservers in it, wine in a box lasts. Inside the box, the wine bag collapses as you drink and the liquid doesn't get exposed to oxygen. It is also very advantageous in terms of carbon footprint. The hitch? Not enough winemakers are putting good wine in boxes.

Pictures: Dirk Wuertz and "Mein Wein" with Christian G.E.Schiller

Dirk Wuertz is one of the exceptions. In addition, he is good looking. He has taken advantage of this and has posed naked for the box of his “Mein Wein”, which he poured at the TVINO Later Night Show.

My tasting notes: straw color in the glass, attack of juicy green apple, pineapple and lemon on the nose, a light-bodied wine, fresh and crisp, good acidity, notes of nuttiness and muskiness with some petrol on the palate, refreshing finish, a very good party wine.

Web Sites

TVINO, Hamburg

Freudenhaus, Hamburg

Weinbar Rutz, Berlin

Old Commercial Room, Hamburg

Hendrik Thoma, Hamburg

Dirk Wuertz, Rheinhessen

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier - An Interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 1)

China's Wine Boom: Is Jeannie Cho Lee the New Robert Parker?

Trends in the global wine market: old world, new world, emerging wine countries

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

In the Glass: Pinot Noir from France, Germany and California

The Wines of Duckhorn Vineyards, Napa Valley

A Master Sommelier Became a Web 2.0 Sommelier - An Interview with Hendrik Thoma (Part 2)

Wine Bar: Rutz Weinbar in Berlin

Wine and Web 2.0 in Germany

In the Glass: Wuertz 2007 Rheinhessen trocken at Ten Bells in the Lower East Side in Manhattan

Wine Event: St. Pauli Weinklub - Wine Club

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