Wine with Food: Doktor
By Paul Kalemkiarian Sr. | October 1983
Maybe you have been fortunate enough to have been given a bottle of Doktor, or you have seen it on a shelf and wondered why it was so expensive, or maybe on the recommendation of a friend you splurged and purchased one. What do you do with it?
Drink it of course!
When? How? With what?. . .becomes the question.
But first, what is this most sought after and revered wine?
“Doktor” is the popular name for Bernkastel Doktor. It is the most famous wine of Germany. (To say this, one must discount the wine with girl in the blue habit on the label! It belongs to another order!)
It is a Mosel from the specific town of Bernkastel, and from grapes grown on the 3½ acre plot called the “Doktor” vineyards. The latter is the most expensive vineyard land in all Germany. Its ownership is split 3 ways between Thanisch 1.5 acres, Deinhard 1.75 acres, and Laueberg 0.25 acres. This miniscule property is practically a shrine in the Mosel wine growing region. It is worth a visit, because the town of Bernkastel that surrounds it is like a picture postcard. It is a place to linger a while. I did just that a few summers back, when I attended the German Wine Academy. There is a charming wine shop just off the main square worth your browsing time.
The reason for the unusual name of “Doktor” is attributed to a fourteenth century tale. Legend is that the archbishop-elector of Trier fell gravely ill, but was miraculously restored to health by a mighty draft of the “Doktor’s” wine. This was not the wine’s only success. In the first decade of this century it is said to have had its ancient luster refurbished when King Edward VII had his physician prescribe it for the good of the royal liver!
Like the better German wines, it is primarily a Riesling. (About 7% of the vineyard is planted to experimental varieties). It is always well made, and it has pedigree. Only Pradikat grade wines are made. Depending on the quality of the harvest each year, they might produce a Kabinett, a Spatlese, or an Auslese designated wine.
If you have a Kabinett, you can serve it as an aperitif wine, or you can serve it with a meal. For an aperitif, you can accompany it with mild cream cheese type hors d’oeuvres with simple crackers (not the flavored types), ham wraps, or fruit. For a meal, serve it with ham, or maybe trout. Allow the wine to play an important part of the meal flavor by keeping the meal simple.
The Kabinett is the driest grade of the Pradikat level of quality, and is usually quite suitable to accompany a meal. The next level up is a Spatlese. Here, the level of sweetness is enough that you might not want to consider the meal. Spatlese grade Riesling wines make excellent sipping wines. They are just right for the lazy summer afternoon on the hammock. As an occasional accompaniment, a vanilla wafer or other not too sweet cookie goes just right. If you want to serve it with a meal, then select a lunch, and do it with a fruit salad and cottage cheese or sherbet, or some variety of Waldorf salad with an almond croissant. Sounds good…what!
The Auslese grade is a treat alone. It is usually sweet enough that it will not do justice to any meal, and even to hors d’oeuvres, and they will in turn not add anything to its enjoyment. A fine Auslese should be sipped as a dessert, or served for an occasion where food is not the emphasis. Aged Riesling Ausles wines have their own special complexities that develop and add dimensions well worth waiting for. 20 years at good cellar conditions for the right wine is quite acceptable.
All these should be served well chilled, and my favorite glass to serve then in is the roemer. For some reason it makes a difference in the enjoyment!
I cannot guarantee cures from afflictions, but I can quite safely predict an outstanding riesling treat when you partake of the “Doktor.”