Wine is my key for the door to the labyrinth that is the world!

Photo: Alexandra Stellwagen



Photograph by Alexandra Stellwagen

Follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/PigottRiesling

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NOTE: The above photograph is very recent, but the autobiographical text below, while entirely correct, is now well behind recent developments and – finally! – will shortly be replaced. Please be patient!

I keep getting asked the same questions and I have to admit that the most frequently posed one – how did you get into wine? – often bugs me, because I find it boring giving the same answer every time. However, I’m too committed to truth to just make up a new answer each time as Andy Warhol did when asked for his life story. Honestly, I’m not trying to dodge that question, but before we get to it I have to tell you about the second most frequently posed question that also used to bug me, but no longer does: which is your favorite wine?

I used to try and answer this precisely, which meant that every time I was asked which my favorite wine is I had to think out what the new answer was, because I kept on discovering new wines that excited me. Then, I realized I could answer the question more generally and this would also be more honest. Now my answer to the second frequently posed question is always the same: the next exciting wine I discover. That wine could come from anywhere and be made from any grape variety, be red or white, sweet or dry, anything else it wants to!

Striving to be this open for the new and unexpected is really the core of what I do. I want to know what’s happening in America, Europe, and the world of wine as a whole. I don’t want to discover that my gaze has become fixed on the rear view mirror staring at what once was, or rather at a piece of the past that fits within the narrow frame of that mirror. I have a thirst for wine and for truth, and because we live in an interconnected world the truth in wine leads me to many other truths. The view through the front windshield is so much bigger than that through the rear view mirror, and focusing on it made me who I am today. Why think backwards?

Back in June 2014 this attitude (a small word for what it actually is) made me the author of BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH –The Riesling Story that will be published in paperback by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in New York Wine City (NYWC). Now, in September 2015, it is making me not only the author, but also the publisher of ROCK STARS OF WINE AMERICA, a series of short e-books that tell the stories of the underground rock star winemakers of America. #1 is an outrageous exception to that rule telling the story of my first close encounter of the third kind with America, which is the backstory to the entire series.

I was in my early twenties and a student in London when I began writing about wine. It was often more interesting than my studies and I was paid for doing it too. When my first articles were published in Decanter Magazine in 1984 I was beginning studying for a masters degree in cultural history at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and had no idea that this “sideline” would become my whole life after I graduated in July 1986. Within a few years I’d moved to Berlin, where I became fluent in spoken and written German. Since September 2001 I’ve been the wine columnist of the Sunday  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s equivalent of The New York Times. Between 1994 and 2010 I published a long string of wine books in German, none of which were translated into English and awareness of my work in the English-speaking world slumped during this period as a result of that.

That didn’t depress me though, and thirty years after I started on my current path I feel like I’m only just beginning. That feeling certainly helped me change course dramatically late in 2012 when I began spending a lot of time in NYWC in order to write BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH from the Big Apple perspective. The very extensive traveling I did within America since arriving in NYWC was the decisive factor in making me take the decision late in 2014 to proceed with the ROCK STARS OF WINE AMERICA project. However, it took a while to figure out that publishing these stories as a series of episodes in the e-book format was the right way to do this. Shaking off outdated media and business models is not an easy process when you’ve been committed to them for decades.

I frequently ask myself is if I decided to do all this or if the Great God of Wine selected me to walk this path for Him? There was a moment at the launch of one of my German language books at Frankfurt Airport on the April 1st 2005 when I suddenly began believing in the Great God of Wine. You see, the only alternative was that I personally shut down the entire airport and the connecting railway stations for 23 minutes causing a major fire alert! Even the most rational people in the room started to doubt that there was a normal explanation for all that.

Either way, I now owe you an answer to that most frequently posed question that sometimes bugs me. I wasn’t quite 16 years old and on a school language exchange with a family in the city of Ludwigshafen on the Rhine. When I arrived the jovial father of my exchange partner showed me around the family home. The kitchen was the last stop and that’s where it happened. He swung open the fridge to reveal rows of wine bottles and uttered a magical word that instantly became part of my German vocabulary: Selbstbedienung (self-service). I did consume generously and without ill effect, and among those wines were my first Rieslings. In retrospect that set me on the course that brought me to where I am today.


21 Responses to I AM WINE

  1. Frank says:

    Sehr schöner Neustart. Macht Appetit auf das, was da kommt.

  2. Christian says:

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zur neuen Website! …sehr gelungen! Wir freuen uns auf spannende Telegramme!

  3. Zoli Heimann says:

    Hallo Stuart,
    Herzlichen Glückwunsch schon mal auch von mir! Ich warte auf unser Treffen in Dezember und wünsche dir bishin viel Glück mit dem Great God of Wine! 🙂
    LG aus Ungarn, Zoli

  4. Mike Keylock says:

    Congratulations on your Weinwunder Deutschland programme. About 35 year ago I studied German in Freiburg and had to undertake a project. I chose “Badischer Wein, von der Sonne verwöhnt” and spent wonderful days and weeks travelling through the Markgräfler Land, tasting those “leckere Tröpfchen”. Now my son is an apprentice Winzer in Franken and my old interest has been rekindled – kein Experte aber ein Geniesser! Es lebe der Wein! Keep up the good work! Mike K. Freudenberg, NRW

  5. 塑膠模具 says:

    Undoubtedly, one of the best article l have come across on this precious topic. I quite agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates.

  6. Woah this weblog is magnificent i like reading your articles. Stay up the great work! You know, a lot of people are looking round for this information, you can help them greatly.

  7. Faber Lucien says:

    wegen Aufgabe meines Weinkellers verkaufe ich Rieslinge (vor allem 2005 und 2007) und andere Weine. Rebholz , van volxem, busch clemens, St. urbans hof, Karthäuserhof

  8. John Doe says:

    Well, i would call that a quite impressive CV! Your sense of humor speaks for itself.
    I absolutely share your love to Riesling, especially German Riesling. Actually, sometimes i am a little bit worried that all the PR you create with your work might drive prices for German Riesling. So far, it is nice to have a world class GG from Rheinhessen or Nahe for less then 50 Euros… Anyway, all the best of luck!

    P.s: You don’t happen to have a bottle of the Grand Cru Mueller Thurgau. I’d love to try it!
    P.s.s: too bad you were not available for Bernhard Huber’s 25th anniversary dinner!

  9. Sara says:

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images
    on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

    • Stuart says:

      Hi Sara, I had a look at this issue and other people didn’t seem to be experiencing the kind of difficulties you did. I think this says the problem probably lies at your end. My apologies whatever the cause of the trouble was. Easy access is what the internet is supposed to be all about. Best, Stuart Pigott

  10. hk says:

    I’m a student studying at Missouri State University and really enjoy what you have accumulated in this article, truly like what you’re expressing and the method with which
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    make sure to keep it clever. I am excited to trade
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    one of the better blogs out there right now.

  11. I seldom leave a response, but i did some searching and wound up here I am Riesling |
    Stuart Pigott’s Planet Wine. And I actually do have 2 questions for
    you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does
    it look as if like a few of these responses appear as if they are left by
    brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
    Would you make a list of all of your communal sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page
    or twitter feed?

    Also visit my web site; mvp sports bedding for boys

  12. Pingback: New York Riesling Diary: Day 47 – What do YOU think about My New Bio? | Stuart Pigott's Planet Wine

  13. Say Hey Stuart Pigott,

    Nice article about Riesling and you in June 7, 2014 Los Angeles Times.

    Have you tried the Stony Hill Riesling from St. Helena?

    The vineyard is adjacent to Smith Madrone. Stuart & Charlie Smith and Michael Chelini (Stony Hill Winemaker) are good buds.

    To the Vintage Year,

    Bob Brown
    Thousand Oaks, California, USA

  14. Martha Gioumousis says:

    I’d like to review your new book in the Finger Lakes Wine Gazette. Can you contact me directly?

  15. Chris Kassel says:

    I will be in Traverse City over the Salon Riesling weekend. I’d like a chance to interview you for a book on Northern Michigan wine country. Can you contact me if you are available at any time during that celebration?

  16. Manfred Schmidt says:

    Lieber Herr Pigott –

    ich habe alle Ihre Kommentare über Riesling in Deutschland und der Welt mit Vergnügen gelesen und auch Ihre Kurzfilme bei uns im TV gesehen. Einige der Winzer an Mosel , Rheingau und Rheinhessen, die Sie besucht haben und kennen, haben sehr lobend über Sie berichtet. Ich bin ein deutscher Rentner mir einiger Weinerfahrung und wäre sehr daran interessiert, wann Sie wieder hier in Deutschland sind und wie man Sie dann mal hier treffen könnte .
    Über eine kurze diesbezügliche Information wäre ich Ihnen dankbar.
    Ich würde wirklich gerne mit Ihnen mal einen guten Riesling trinken; – vielleicht auch zwei oder 3 Weine !

    Mit freundlichem Weingruß

    Manfred Schmidt
    p.s. – bin übrigens aufgrund Ihrer Empfehlung am 17.9.2015 nachmittags im Weingut Wagner&Stempel in Siefersheim, Rheinhessen ( diese Weingut hatten Sie als einen Ort der “vinophilen Entspannung” definiert !)

  17. Chris Kassel says:


    Quick wine question. How long will the top German estates with the top reputations wait between harvest and release? I am looking for the hyperbolic answer, not necessarily specifics. Just an idea of the time frame for the best wines to actually see shop shelves from the time they are made.

    • Stuart says:

      Chris, that’s a very good question and there isn’t a simple answer to it.For the regular quality white wines October harvest and March/April release is normal. However, the high end dry wines (GG & Co.) don’t get released until September following the harvest and some producers hold back a lot longer than that. For red wines add one year to all of that. Best, Stuart

  18. Hi Stuart:
    I am presently enjoying your book, and was intrigued with the reference to Synchromesh, and Thorny Vines Riesling in particular. I am currently in the process of updating the Thorny Vines website and was wondering if you would mind me including a quote from the book.

    Thorny Vines is our vineyard, but the credit for making the wine goes to Alan Dickinson who I believe you met a couple of years ago. He continues to build his reputation as one of the premier riesling winemakers in the Okanagan and we just bask in his reputation.

    All the best,
    Ian Hornby-Smith

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