France vs Germany
France and Germany will meet on the soccer field tomorrow for the first time in 28 years at the World Cup. The French team won their only World Cup title in 1998, having appeared in 14 FIFA World Cups, they are tied for fifth most of any country. The German national team is one of the most successful FIFA World Cup contenders, winning three World Cup titles, and reaching four other finals. They are second only to Italy as most frequent team to appear in the World Cup with 18 tournaments.
France is one of the oldest and largest wine producers in the world, with winemaking history dating back the 6th century BC. France is home to the Appellation d’Origine Controlee system and the concept of terroir, where varietal and styles of wines are linked to the location where they are grown and made. They are the source of many well-known grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah, which are now planted throughout the world. The rich history and prestige of French wines is known throughout the world, along with their cultural practice of wines being made to compliment foods. There are many famous wine regions in France, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, Champagne, the Loire, and Alsace.
As we discussed on the discussed on the blog on Monday Germany is primarily a white wine country, known for their aromatic and elegant Riselings. Spätburgunder is the name for Pinot Noir grown in Germany. At one time, Germany and France were both revered as the top two wine producing countries in the world and German wines fetched top prices at auction. Interestingly, because of the Germanic influence in the Alsace region of France, most wines are labeled as their varietal (rather than appellation), and are predominantly white wines such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
During the 60’s and 70’s Germany’s wine production grew to include large quantities of sweet blended wines for export. While they continued to produce and consume high quality wines in the country, Germany became known for these sweet cheap wines in the international markets diminishing their reputation. Today Germany produces some of the finest wines of exceptional quality, but you may only occasionally find these underrated German wines in your local wine shop.
As these two European powerhouses head into the quarter finals tomorrow, with a rivalry dating back to 1931, it is sure to be a tense match. Seven of Germany’s players are reportedly ill with flu symptoms, which could give France the upper hand. In 25 previous World Cup meet ups between them; France has won 11 to Germany’s 8, the remaining six drawn. We are guessing France will win this match and move forward to the semi-finals.
Brazil vs Columbia
Being in such close proximity to the equator, much of Brazil is unsuitable for viticulture due to the heat and humidity. Although the country has a relatively large number of vineyards, most produce table grapes and only some vineyards in the south of the country produce Brazilian wine. The first vines were introduced by the Portuguese in 1532 and Spanish vines by the Jesuits in 1626.
Colombia does grow some grapes and produce wine, however their history is the shortest of any of the countries we have discussed so far in this week’s blogs. The catalyst for wine production in the country was the high taxes the government imposed on imported wines in the 80’s and 90’s, when previously US wines had been freely imported. Taking lessons from neighboring Chile, Colombia began producing some wines and much of their production is now used to produce fortified wines or brandy. Colombia is much better known for its oldest and best known product: coffee. There are many similarities between coffee and wine – regions of origin, climate, plant/fruit varietals, methods of harvesting, bean/grape selection, production processes, single-origin versus blends, point scoring, aromas, and many health benefits (and perhaps detriments). Both coffee and wine enhance meals and occasions, and offer a complex variety to satisfy any palate.
This is the first time in 16 years Colombia has appeared at the World Cup and the first time ever they have advanced to the quarterfinals! If Colombia maintains the confidence they have shown so far, they could get past the mental block most South American teams have when playing Brazil. Colombia enters this match as the underdog, against host-nation Brazil, who has won the World Cup a record five times and hasn't lost a game on home soil since 1975.
Prediction: France, Netherlands, Argentina, and Brazil move on to the semifinals.