James the Wine Guy Interviews wine journalist and writer Christian G.E. Schiller

(Photo: me and Christian G.E. Schiller – Schiller-Wine journalist and writer)

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This is my first interview and what a wonderful person to interview.  Through the goodness of social media we met online and also in person at Pinot Days 2011 in San Francisco.  I admire Christian’s very well written blog; his attention and focus to detail and yet he also captures the essence of wine enjoyment.  His travels, wine and winery discoveries are well cataloged with a myriad of stories and great photos often picturing wondrous morsels of food paired with wine.  Christian’s enthusiasm is both evident and contagious.  I look forward to reading many more of his adventures and to once again toast a glass of wine in person with Christian.

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JTWG: What is the story of wine?

Christian G.E. Schiller: My wine story is as follows: I grew up without wine. This changed radically, when I moved to Mainz, with San Francisco and Bordeaux, one of the “wine capitals” of the world. Since then, the days without wine have been rare. As a result of my job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), I have shuttled back and forth between old and new world wine countries during my professional life and I believe I therefore have a pretty good overview of the wines of the world. My passion, however remains bone-dry Riesling from Germany.

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JTWG: What brought you to wine / how did wine call to you?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I grew up in Frankfurt am Main, a city of apple wine (hard cider), but whilst studying in Mainz, I discovered and fell in love with the wine tavern culture, the wineries surrounding Mainz, and wine itself. My wife and I quickly became involved with wine. We are founding members of the wine brotherhood of Hochheim in the Rheingau. Another founding member is the late Franz Kuenstler of Weingut Franz Kuenstler.

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JTWG: How / when did you become a wine journalist?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I started to write about wine on my wine blog schiller-wine 2 years ago, when I retired. I am a Ph.D. economist, who spent all his professional life with the IMF.

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 JTWG: What has been the best thing about social media and wine?

Christian G.E. Schiller: Social media has allowed me to do what I do now: write about wine.

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JTWG: Why do you think wine has become more popular over time in the United States?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I give a lot of credit to a personal hero of mine, Robert Mondavi.

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 JTWG: What are the undiscovered wine regions in the world today?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I believe Eastern and Central European Countries, such as Hungary, which have a long history of wine making, but were cut off from the world by the iron curtain, are experiencing a renaissance. In addition, China and other Asian countries are developing strongly.

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JTWG: What are you favorite varietals?

Christian G.E. Schiller: Riesling is my favorite varietal, in particular bone-dry Rieslings from Germany.

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JTWG: Your favourite wine moment?

Christian G.E. Schiller: Several moments: A long luncheon with California Pinot Noir Pioneer Walter Schug in Sonoma; an afternoon with Riesling guru Wilhelm Weil at his winery in Kiedrich, Germany and an elaborate tasting with Bourgogne-style wine maker Anthony Hamilton Russell in South Africa.

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JTWG: What is your favorite cuisine and what do you like to pair with your favourite dish?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I like classic French cuisine. Only few people know this, but one of the best places to eat a la Francaise at very reasonable prices is Antananarivo in Madagascar. It is amazing what kind of sophistication you get there for a few dollars. And in Madagascar I only drink Malagasy wine – very good table wine, but not more.

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JTWG: What would you suggest for someone who is beginning to write about wine and what to seek or educate themselves?

Christian G.E. Schiller: Or even techniques or approaches to writing about wine? I went to a community college in the Rheingau region in Germany, where I learnt the basics for 6 semesters (3 years). I think you need some formal training to fully appreciate wine.

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JTWG: Do you have any prized wines in your collection that you have never tasted from that producer before?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I have about 1000 bottles in my two cellars in Frankfurt am Main and Washington DC, but very few expensive wines. I started to buy wines for my cellar in the 1970s, when I was a student. Then I worked as an international civil servant and brought up 4 children. All my life I did not really have the money to buy expensive wines. Thus, I have quite a number of wines from older vintages, but not from expensive producers.

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JTWG: Any particularly favorite wine country(ies) that you visit routinely; if so which ones and why?

Christian G.E. Schiller: When I am in Washington DC, I like to go to the Virginia wine country during weekends. A lot has been happening there in the past 30 years. In Frankfurt am Main, the Rheingau and Rheinhessen regions are 30 minutes away by car and I go there almost every evening ( if I do not go to an apple wine tavern in Frankfurt am Main, which I also love to do) .

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JTWG: What is the most enjoyable thing about wine writing?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I published throughout my professional career (though about economics and not about wine) and I always enjoyed it. I also noticed that I have become more and more interested in the pictures of the postings on schiller-wine.

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JTWG: What wine varietals do you find yourself drinking often currently?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I like to drink local. Also, I drink more white wines in the summer and more red wines in the winter. When I am in Frankfurt am Main, I exclusively drink European wine – German, Austrian and French. When I am in Washington DC, I drink American wines, but also other new world as well as old word wines. The choice in Washington DC is just amazing.

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JTWG: Your blog has a diversity of wine content on nearly every wine subject; you have written a large number articles on German wines.  And what would you recommend someone who wants to learn about German wines—where should they start?

Christian G.E. Schiller: I would like to make 2 recommendations: (1) join the German Wine Society and attend their tastings and (2) follow my facebook page “Drinking German Wine in America” where I repost articles about German wine that I come across and find useful. Many of my postings on schiller-wine are also educational.

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Take a look for yourself to see the plethora of high quality wine content.  Here is Christian’s blog site:  Schiller-Wine: http://schiller-wine.blogspot.com/

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About James Melendez

I love wine and have had the privilege of working in the wine trade as a senior national wine marketing manager for a wine, food and home goods retailer in 30+ US States. I executed into making wine experiential and made 'wines of the world' programme work in a highly regulated framework for a successful business proposition. My "wine" site also incorporates those categories intimately involved with wine such as food, travel and lifestyle. This site incorporates my many dimensions of interest. I love to review and also talk about many aspects of wine. I have been privileged to visit many wine countries and find them enthralling no matter how many times I visit. I love all aspects of wine: viticulture, history, winemaking, brand development, wine regions and many more aspects. This is a living tradition that needs documentation, education, reporting and reviewing. Do I have favourite varieties and styles? I love so many varieties and often it is situational and yet there are time honoured wines that I anticipate and I am passionate about. I like all colours of wine and all styles. I have had a mad passionate affair with sparkling wines and they are always top of mind. Wine nourishes our soul and is the key to connecting with other people at our dinner table. Salute, James © 2014, 2017 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social medias.
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