Would you brush your teeth just before embarking on a tasting of sparkling wine? That’s a question well-known German writer and sommelier Christina Fischer will be asking delegates attending next month’s (March’s) Down to Earth, the New World show-within-a-show at ProWein, the top-level annual trade show in Düsseldorf.

The three-day event runs from Sunday, March 27, to Tuesday, March 29, and features five New World tasting regions: Argentina, California, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.

Her contention is that even the most knowledgeable winelovers and members of the international wine industry are sometimes thrown by incompatible food and wine pairings that could just as well produce the same results as a rinsing of toothpaste followed by a glass of even the finest bubbly.

Chairing two food and wine pairing sessions at this year’s Down to Earth, Fischer says both seminars are intended to challenge prejudices, extend boundaries of taste and inform even the most seasoned palates.

On the opening day she and her panel will focus on the extent to which food can change the experience of wine. They will present Chardonnays from each of the participating regions with a selection of what promise to be fascinating food matches. She will appear again the following day with a different panel, running a similar exercise but this time featuring examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from the five regions and exploring their compatibility with a range of dishes.

Also planning to surprise delegates at this year’s Down to Earth is sommelier Alessandro Marchesan, with a seminar entitled Not What You Would Expect, a presentation on new varietal plantings and comparisons between New and Old World winemaking in what he has described as “an eccentric and exciting” line-up.

While intriguing food and wine matching forms an integral part of the three-day initiative, other major focus areas include sustainability and the signature varietals produced by each of the five regions.

Sustainability will be addressed on every one of the three days. Dr Monika Christmann, who heads the department of oenology and wine technology at the Geisenheim Research Institute, will highlight the scientific approach her university is taking to sustainability. Respected German economist and wine writer Jürgen Mathäß will chair a panel represented by the heads of the generic bodies of each of the five participating regions in which they share their codes of good practice and long-term vision. On the third day, Pancho Campo MW, Spanish-based climate specialist, will chair a discussion on sustainability as a corporate social responsibility. His panel will also address issues such as biodynamics, organics and ecology.

There will be two presentations on signature varietals. One will be chaired by Austrian wine writer and wine educator, Luzia Schrampf, who has written several wine books and whose columns are published internationally. The other will be presented by Lynne Sherriff MW, the South African-born head of the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Other highlights will include a tasting of some of the New World’s internationally top-scoring wines, presented blind, in which sommeliers will offer their comments without the constraints of knowledge of label or producer. The seminar will be chaired by Austrian educator Annemarie Foidl, who is president of the Austrian Sommelier Association and also serves on the judging panels of several international sommelier competitions.

Sherriff will also be conducting a special tutored tasting for Masters of Wine students and exploring terroir, in an event exclusively for media that will involve a tasting of single-vineyard wines from the five participating regions.

Back to the Future, chaired by Cees van Casteren, a widely published wine writer and educator working in Europe, will look at the age-worthiness of some of the participating regions’ wines of five years and older, examining issues such as winemaking techniques and wine styles.
This year marks the second in succession in which the five normally competing wine regions are collaborating to highlight New World wine achievements and innovations.
Delegates are urged to book well in advance, given that many of last year’s Down to Earth seminars were over-subscribed.
For further information and bookings go to www.down2earth-prowein.com

For more information contact:
Wines of Argentina:
Andrew Maidment
0044 7815647429

California Wine Institute:
Christine Berthold +49 (0) 421-217020
Cell phone +49 (0) 178-2170200
Email: berthold@wineinstitute.de

Wines of Chile:
Juan Somavia (Chile) +56 9776 75086 or Michael Cox (UK) +44 (0) 7785 291503
Email:jsomavia@winesofchile.org Michael@winesofchile.org.uk

New Zealand Winegrowers:
David Cox +44 (0)20 7973 8079 mobile +44 (0)7974 22898
Email: davidc@nzwine.com

Wines of South Africa:
Su Birch +27 21 825630677 or +27 21 8833860
Email: su@wosa.co.za
Pippa Carter + 27 21 883 3860
Email: pippa@wosa.co.za