Paul Grieco on What a German Wine Queen Does, Exactly

Terroir is about to get the royal treatment. Tomorrow, as part of the East Village wine bar's annual Summer of Riesling Festival, German Wine Queen Marlies Dumbsky will be holding court from behind the bar. Paul Grieco, Terroir's eloquent and eccentric cruise director (he's otherwise known as its co-owner and wine director), announced her imminent arrival last week on the Feedbag, proclaiming "she can kick the ass of any potentate from any other wine region in the world."

But what, aside from kicking ass, does a German wine queen do, exactly?

"She does what we love her to do," says Grieco. "She stands behind the bar and talks about the glory of German wine."

Dumbsky's family has been in the grape business since 1837.  Since winning her title last autumn, the 23-year-old vintner, who hails from the Franken region, has traveled the world as an ambassador for German wine. According to an interview she did with, her first appearance was at a trade show, where she was "incredibly nervous because I had no idea what questions the moderator [would ask] and what a wine princess [says] at all."

"I say, 'The wine queen of Germany,' and people say, 'Yeah, Paul,'" says Grieco. "Is she a beautiful woman? Without question. But she's had to stand up to an oral test -- a knowledge of German wine is necessary." To win her title, Dumbsky beat out wine princesses from Germany's 13 regions. "She came in and kicked ass," Grieco says. "And on top of that, she's beautiful. So it's win-win-win across the board." Plus, "she's a motorcycle lover, super nice, speaks multiple languages, and knows grape juice. She's not just a pretty face."

This will be Dumbsky's second appearance at what Grieco calls "our little hamburger shack in the East Village." The first took place last December. Tomorrow, Dumbsky will be educating her subjects about the virtues of riesling, though the grape couldn't ask for a more passionate spokesman than Grieco himself.

"Let's be honest," he says. "Some people think very narrowly of riesling. If you don't like it, we get you over that hump. If you come in liking it, we give you an awesome education. If you come in knowing it and loving it, we put stuff in front of you that you've never had. Whatever your experience, we take you by the hand.

"There's a simplicity and purity about riesling," he muses, sounding almost lovesick. "It's unencumbered by all of the bullshit that goes into producing wine. You see absolute truthfulness once you encounter it -- you can't help but be a better person. It's like a spa treatment for mind and soul."

Whether or not it will actually open your pores and give you a massage, however, remains to be determined.

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