And so Germany won the World Cup, once again reaffirming their status as leviathans of football. If there’s an international tournament about, you can be fairly sure that the Germans will be there in the closing stages, battling it out for medals and glory. Four times now they have won the greatest tournament of them all, not to mention the four finals and five semi-finals. For the German football team, life is one long lap of honour, one immense open-top bus parade.
Which is a bit of a shame for semi-professional football-and-wine analogists, because for all the garlands won by their footballers, if you were to fill a stadium with enthusiastic amateur wine-drinkers from across the world and bring out a succession of wines grouped by nationality – and to be fair I can imagine no reason why anyone would do this, but I’m speaking hypothetically here – Germany’s would get booed off.
Some national football teams fit their homeland’s winegrowing profiles quite well. Chile, for example, were extremely popular at the World Cup, with a squad short on expensive stars that overdelivered. Italy assumed rivals would crumble in the face of their inevitable superiority but despite the presence of some extremely classy players they received a rude awakening. England believed they had produced some effervescent, sparkly players good enough to rival the best in Europe, but hadn’t.
In their inarguable excellence the German team unified opinion in a way that their wines never do. I celebrated their success with a bottle of Von Winning 2012, a just a little bit off-dry riesling from the Pfalz, which I found delicious in a limey, green-appley, superlatively summery way; Mrs CF took a single sip and then actually threatened me with physical violence if I ever stain her glass with German wines again (she then proceeded to drink the rest of her glass and a couple more, grumbling all the while).
The biggest club in German football is Bayern Munich, who hoover up domestic silverware with such perpetual hunger and remorseless drive that even their national side would be shamed by their relative lack of ambition and achievement. Nearly everyone likes Bayern Munich, and even those who don’t can’t help but acknowledge their excellence. But the nerdy football folk of this world, the people for whom the obvious is never quite enough, prefer the relatively minor but enormously cooler St Pauli, or perhaps Union Berlin. German wine is not Bayern Munich. German wine is St Pauli.
As Jancis Robinson recently wrote, it’s difficult to find anyone who works in wine who does not love riesling. Ask 100 wine professionals to name their favourite white grape and 90 of them will without thinking give you the same answer. Ask the same question on the UK high street and you’d probably get more people saying picpoul.
With my football-loving hat on, I’ve got to say Germany are so successful it’s annoying. And with my wine-loving hat on (I don’t actually have a wine-loving hat) Germany is so unsuccessful it’s frustrating. I can only imagine how infuriating it must be to those trying to flog their wines to the unappreciative British public. But if they do need to cheer themselves up, there’ll probably be an open-top bus driving past sometime soon.