Seven Years on, Paul Grieco Is Still Trying to Eradicate Your Riesling Sins


This season brings the seventh iteration of Summer of Riesling, a vinous campaign founded and led by Riesling’s greatest advocate, Paul Grieco of Terroir Wine Bars, to educate consumers on the grape’s breadth of styles (e.g., most aren’t sweet, many of the best are dry) and celebrate the grape’s general greatness with like- and open-minded imbibers.

Opportunities to sample Rieslings abound at the various Terroir bars, but for a boat ride that includes a bottomless glass of “God’s favorite nectar,” consider joining the fourth annual shindig “31 Days of German Riesling Concert Cruise” this Tuesday, July 8. A boat named Jewel will coast around the waterways of Manhattan from 7:30 until 10:30 p.m.; the party features live music by Black Taxi and an appearance by the German wine Queen, and you’ll be able to purchase Terroir food. Tickets are $45 (plus a small ticketing fee).

In advance of the event, we asked Grieco a few questions about his allegiance to Riesling, to use Nietzsche and Riesling in the same sentence, and to confirm rumors of an all-David Hasselhoff jukebox.

Summer of Riesling began in 2008. How has the celebration grown in the last seven seasons?
Yes, we began in 2008 with Terroir E.Vil only, and repeated that in 2009. In 2010, Terroir Tribeca joined the fray, so we doubled in size. In 2011, we went national, and 212 fellow venues joined the fray. In 2012, that number was 500. But in 2013, we trimmed things back to 115 participants. All very dedicated souls!

Why Riesling and not, say, sherry?
Because no wine or grape has the issues that Riesling has…as Nietzsche stated: “convictions are more enemies of truth than lies.”

Do you feel like you’ve made an impact, even minor, on consumers’ perception of Riesling?
I do think the conversation of Riesling has gotten easier over the years; consumers are at least willing to discuss the wine as opposed to just slamming the door shut.

I heard the following statements in the last two weeks: 1. “I don’t drink German Riesling because they are all too sweet,” from the mouth of a self-proclaimed wine aficionado who nearly got into the wine retail biz; 2. “Germany doesn’t produce enough cheap, sweet Riesling to slake the thirst of America,” from the mouth of a notable U.S. importer who declines to buy Austrian Riesling because he believes nobody wants dry juice. Can you reconcile these comments?
No…both are spoken by people who have no clue and are not willing to put in the hard work that is necessary to change this conversation.

Do you really have a jukebox dedicated to David Hasselhoff?
Not a jukebox, but he is on constant rotation on my iPod…but only in the German language.

I love schnitzel. Will that be a staple menu item throughout the Summer of Riesling? And if so, at which bars?
I love schnitzel too! Terroir Murray Hill and Terroir Park Slope have it.

Will your work with Riesling ever be done?
Christ was born the son of God and he lived a singular life to eradicate man’s original sin. My story is similar.

After Riesling, which grape (or region) would you campaign for next?
Ann Coulter to be abandoned at sea…with three cases of Riesling and the FIFA World Cup video series.