Welcome to Pro-Sips, our new series sharing pro-tips from sommeliers and wine experts! There’s so much to learn and explore within the world of German wine – 13 distinct regions offering numerous wine varieties in a range of styles – so to help you get started, we’re bringing wine wisdom from the pros straight to you.
Jermaine Stone’s German Wine Pro-Tips
We interviewed Jermaine Stone, the founder & CEO of Cru Luv Selections, host of Wine and Hip Hop Show, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Tastemaker in 2020.
Jermaine was raised worlds away from Wine Country in the Bronx, New York. He had plans to become a rapper, and by age 19, he’d already made appearances on XM Radio, BET and Hot 97. But after starting a job at Zachys Wine Auctions, he quickly turned into a lover of fine wine. In his nine years there, he became a seasoned auctioneer and member of Zachys’ senior leadership, later becoming one of the founding directors of Wally’s Wine Auctions in partnership with Los Angeles’ top wine merchant in 2013. He now runs Cru Luv Selections, a New York-based firm dedicated to blending the best elements of wine and hip hop.
Connect with Jermaine on Instagram at @RealWolfOfWine and read his Pro-Sips below!
Q1: How or why did you get into the wine industry, and at what point were you introduced to German wine?
My first job in wine was as a shipping clerk for a wine auction house. At the time, I took the job as a way to pay for college but became more and more intrigued by the culture around wine and the history behind all those old bottles I packed every day. Interestingly enough, it was at that time that I discovered German wine. As a shipping clerk, one of my primary responsibilities was to match each bottle against the invoice to confirm that the correct wine was being shipped. German wines were always some of the oldest! I remember being amazed at the dust, torn labels, and vintages of those old bottles of Riesling. Coincidentally Riesling was an easy varietal to start with. Not only was the sweetness and acidity exactly what my new palate needed, but once I began buying at auction, I found so many great values in an older Riesling that I was actually able to afford those old vintage bottles I used to pack.
Q2: What was your first “wow” German wine moment, the first time a German wine really blew you away, inspired you to explore the category further, and/or shifted your perspective of the category?
Riesling was my gateway grape, so I’ve always had a special place in my heart for German wine; however, I would say that my first WOW moment was my first experience with Sekt (German sparkling wine). At the time I was asked to pair a bottle of wine with a Hip Hop song for my appearance on “The Wine Show”. Per my usual process, I had a round table conversation with my team to kick around ideas, and we came to the consensus that we wanted to pick a wine that was unique, fun, and not in the everyday conversation of wine. My partner Ben suggested Sekt, so we tried a few bottles and BOOM! My mind was blown. It was a sparkling Riesling, so all the amazing qualities of Riesling, BUT SPARKLING?!? You can tell by my excitement for my final selection on the show.
Q3: What is your favorite German wine and food pairing, and why?
My favorite German wine and food pairing was a recent discovery for my new show “Tasting Notes From The Streets.” In each episode, we pair our favorite food from the hood with amazing wine from all over the world. We kicked the series off with Jamaican Beef Patties and German Spätburgunder. This was another WOW German wine moment. The pairing was AMAZING. The cranberry and cherry notes in the wine elevated the spice in the patty to give me a whole new experience with one of my favorite foods of all time.
Q4: Speaking of pairings, what’s a Wine & Hip Hop style German wine pairing you would recommend either new German wine consumers or existing German wine fans try?
One of my best wine and hip-hop pairings was the pairing I mentioned earlier for my appearance on “The Wine Show”. It was a bottle of Weiser-Künstler Zeppwingert Riesling Sekt from the Mosel paired with “No Cap” by JR Boss. Both the wine and the song are up-tempo, bubbly, underrated, and not only was the song called no cap, but the bottle fits the theme as well because it has an exposed cork with a cage but no cap!
Q5: Finally, for all the wine lovers out there, what’s your favorite pro-sip about wine that more people should know?
When buying old wine, never judge a bottle by its label. Sure, assess the condition. Check the level of the wine in the bottle. Look for any signs of seepage or corrosion coming from the capsule. But in my professional opinion, the label has no impact on the quality of the wine.