ProWein Pro Tips

Paula Sidore and Stuart Pigott on stage of Prowein Forum Trend Talks

With the wine world convening in Düsseldorf in just a few days for the 30th edition of ProWein, we thought now would be the perfect time to share Paula Redes Sidore’s pro tips for making the most of the trade fair. It can feel vast and intimidating. But as Paula explains, it doesn’t have to be. Follow her strategies for avoiding painful rookie mistakes, making the best connections, how and where to recharge on the go, and much more. You’re likely to come away brimming with new contacts, ideas, and inspiration.

Paula, you’re headed to ProWein this week! Tell me what you’ll be doing there?

The to-do list is long! I’ll be scoping out some of the less familiar or harder-to-reach regions like Slovenia and Croatia, to get an idea of what’s happening there. California and Oregon are always must sees — if only for a sip of Ridge and a tasty burger (hey, we all get a little homesick!). 

Then of course, I’ll be talking with fellow TRINK contributor Stuart Pigott at the ProWein Forum about industry trends we’ve observed throughout the year at the Trend Hour Tasting. This will be our sixth year of sharing our insights. It’s been gratifying to see many of the trends we cited that first year continue to develop. We tend to talk less about fads and more about currents — forces beneath the surface that are reshaping the industry — pushing and pulling the wine world in tangible and often lasting ways. This year our topics center around the theme of drought, including many its associated challenges. In addition, we will be tackling PIWIs, AI, and alternative packaging. We will even be debuting the world’s first 750-ml, traditionally shaped aluminum bottle! 

What do you most look forward to about ProWein?

The chance to collect international impulses like lightning bugs in a jar. It’s a wild ride of intense and varied inspirations. Throughout the rest of the year, I keep my efforts pretty tightly focused on the German-speaking market, but ProWein is an annual chance to add grist to the mill, to place German-speaking wines into an international context. Whether it’s following up on a place I’ve only read about or stumbling into somewhere completely new, I always come away inspired. And it’s also a great chance to see colleagues and friends from across Europe (and elsewhere)!

Trend Talks are less about fads and more about currents — forces beneath the surface that are reshaping the industry — pushing and pulling the wine world in tangible and often lasting ways. This year our topics center around the theme of drought, including many its associated challenges.

What are some of the challenges of attending?

ProWein requires a fair amount of work before your badge is even scanned. With 16 vast halls, good prep is crucial. Just crossing the grounds can take a solid 25 minutes and that’s in good weather (rarely the case in March, sadly). It pays to spend time in the days before arranging appointments with estates in the same or adjoining halls. Always pack a small, healthy snack and build in 10-minute breaks to keep your mind and palate fresh. If you’re like me, walk outside between halls (instead of along the indoor paths) to get some fresh air, natural light, and slow the wall of people passing by.

Make sure to take it easy in the evenings. I tend to seek out a quiet noodle joint for dinner, sip some soup and peppermint tea, and finalize my game plan for the next day.

Do you remember your first ProWein? What were some of your biggest impressions?

I did everything wrong! It was 2009 and I was studying for my sommelier exams. I picked up the paper event guide at the information desk and sauntered into the first hall only to be met with Vegas levels of lights, people, and sound. I spent 45 minutes blocking the middle of the main drag, paralyzed by indecision (and high heels). The next two days were a blurred panic.  I tried, and failed, to taste my way from Armenia to Zagreb. The next year I showed up with a color-coded chart for each day broken into 15-minute segments and organized by hall number and row. And sneakers.

Prowein schedule beside a cup of coffee

What would you advise a first-time visitor to the fair? Please give us one can’t-miss aspect.

I would advise spending some time exploring the website. Pick a few growers you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to taste, or a region you’ve been eager to learn more about. Have a theme or a plan, otherwise it’s easy to end up overwhelmed. 

Can’t miss? The master classes. I’ll never forget a vintage vertical I had with Bruno Paillard Champagne. Often it’s the small, focused ones that are the most illuminating. And while it’s very much a personal ritual, I end every fair by visiting one of my favorite growers for a Feierabend beer (hidden under the tasting bar) on Tuesday afternoon. I close my notebook and let all those lightning bug impulses settle. 

Pre-pandemic, ProWein was considered an essential event on the global wine calendar. I remember planning to go for the first time and thinking it was such a big moment — not least because I was going to meet you in person for the first time! Do you think producers and the trade generally still see ProWein as a must? Why or why not?

As much as I would have loved to have met you that first year, VieVinum a few years later was a nice second option! Seriously though, I do think ProWein has changed over the last five years. Some smaller producers are choosing to attend peripheral events (like Salon Naturel) or those that precede the fair (such as Haut les Vins). The pandemic shifted the export strategy for a number of German growers. That now figures into the overall calculus. For those with minimal export or whose wines are sold by allocation, ProWein might not make as much sense. On the other hand, joint stands are becoming more popular. That means smaller, newer growers who never would have considered attending in the past are now banding together over a shared region or interest. This is breeding a new level of collaboration that is exciting to see both on and off the fairgrounds!

For German-speaking wine lovers like us, what’s the top reason to attend ProWein? 

That’s an excellent question. Maybe it’s my background in literature, but the chance to compare and contrast is one-of-a-kind. You can follow the common thread of say Silvaner through Alto Adige, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland within a few hours  — and still not hit your step count for the day!

Last question: Where can TRINK readers find you if they are heading to ProWein?

If anyone finds themselves in Düsseldorf, I’d love to meet up for a quick Trink In the Wild photo-op, a sip of Sekt, or even a simple hallo. Reach out with an email or IG, or come up after the talk to introduce yourself!

Prowein trend talks in crowded Forum room with stage up front

Trend Talks with Paula Sidore and Stuart Pigott

Trend Forum, Hall 13

Sunday, 10 March, 5 – 6pm
Monday, 11 March, 5 – 6pm

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