Woe unto the unfamiliar wine with a familiar personality. It’s like that sweet-natured kid in high school you kinda had a crush on, but his acne was tough or her punky garb said “don’t talk to me,” so you drew closer to the ones with more conventional outward dispositions or looks, only years later recognizing that they were boring, uncaring, aggressive.

The jerky jocks hog the hallways. I’ll momentarily engage the privilege of the dispossessed to criticize them – amped-up California pinots and malbecs damaged by excessive time in small new-oak barrels – for dominating wine’s limelight, for luring us into a falsely narrow spectrum of choices.

We all know what happened to the acne kids, the punky kids, the put-upon, awkward, bookish kids, the software dorks: They grew up to create the most engaging art, the most imaginative companies; to propose the most interesting sociological questions and philosophical inquiries; to raise the best children.

And so it may be one day, I pray, for scheurebe. Scheurebe is the new friend you make in your senior year, once you’ve outgrown your petty cliquishness and have the confidence to hang out with whomever you damn well please.

Wines with unconventional names or origins want what everyone wants – to be loved, to love – but they require a tender attention few of us remember to employ consistently. Subconsciously, we assume that a wine with a name that’s difficult to pronounce, or from a region not dependent on romantic-getaway tourism, will itself be difficult to enjoy. Moving past that erroneous association is a pretty good definition of maturity.

The scheurebe grape was first bred by Dr. Georg Scheu (“rebe” means “vine”) in 1916, a cross between riesling and – wait for it – bukettrebe, which itself is a cross between silvaner and schiava, the latter also known as vernatsch or trollinger.

The intention of the cross-breeding was to produce something riesling-like but higher-yielding and easier to ripen fully. Its relative rarity is due to its general … let’s call it Deutschkeit, but also to an inaccurate association with sweet riesling, as well as the unfortunate fact that it excels in the same soils that riesling does, and riesling takes marketplace priority in the vineyard.

Scheurebe is pronounced “SHOY-ray-beh” (or abbreviate to “shoy” if you like, as many geeks do), and it’s a white wine grape from Germany. I’m sorry about those facts, but get over it. Practice saying its name twice and you’re there; it rolls off the tongue more easily than “pinot grigio” or “sauvignon blanc” or “nero d’avola.” As a wine, it slides over the tongue way more pleasurably.

Scheurebe could, in fact, be thought of as effortlessly expressing, though with better developed umami character, much of what we appreciate in those better known varietals I just listed: aromatic intensity, precision and length, fruity disposition offset by bitter and herbal notes, balance of sweet/salty/spicy/sour.

A noted importer of scheu- rebe wines and vocal proponent for their particular charms, Terry Theise, has accurately if somewhat indecorously used an adult-themed analogy to help orient us within the context of German wine. If riesling is a somewhat conventional, missionary-style sexual experience with the lights on, the metaphor goes, scheurebe is quite the opposite: lights off, rules disregarded, limbs askew, etc. There are references to the kama sutra and “something more pagan” than riesling; scheurebe as riesling’s “evil, horny twin.”

Let me put it another way: Scheurebe’s flavors are immediately recognizable and delightful, but the wines are not completely “clean.” I mean that they’re not scrubbed of suggestions – of a sort of sultry, sweaty, lusty, curvaceous all-in humanness lacking in so many sterile, neutered modern wines. Scheurebe is mildly lewd, though irresistible to all but the most prudish.

Or I could come at it from a different wine direction and say that despite the lack of genetic relation, scheurebe is sauvignon blanc’s kinder, more generous, more fun twin. Like sauvignon blanc, it must walk the middle path, for it is sour and distasteful when picked too early, or rotten-fruity when sideswiped by botrytis. Like sauvignon blanc on the rare occasions when it is picked appropriately (or as some call it, “late”), it is exuberantly aromatic, mouth-filling, weighty with steady jolts of acidity. Like sauvignon blanc, it often presents the character of grapefruit and green herbs.

Unlike sauvignon blanc, it has additional components of musk and red grape, sometimes even raisin. Unlike sauvignon blanc, it forms wines versatile enough to be appropriate matches for Asian dishes, fish sauce and fermented foods as well as summer-inspired meals with lots of green on the plate.

Here’s the 13th way of looking at this particular blackbird: Other great white wines usually appeal most thoroughly to the mind, and even the spirit. Such is the realm of white Burgundy, riesling, Alsace generally, aged white Rioja, Savennieres. Most of those wines, especially when young, have a focus and even austerity, which develop directly into breathtaking intellectual grandeur. I’ve never had such an experience with scheurebe, though I adore it, for scheurebe, at its zenith, appeals primarily to the body. Its pleasures are sensual, felt in tremulous rumblings, toes curling. They are tingly, not brainy; they are what your high school classes could not sway you from grasping that life was really about.

In my job as a wine retailer, my experience with scheurebe has for years now followed a dispiriting cycle. I taste the wine and thrill once more to its exotic, sexy sheen. I buy a few bottles to put on the shelf, excited to nudge customers toward trying it out. Said customers demur. I reply, “Really, you sure? Let me describe it a different way …” Still a lukewarm response. The bottles stay put.

I move them to the box where the wines that don’t sell go, at 15 percent discount. (By the way, hot tip: Such boxes are often a shop’s treasure trove, since they house the wines the wine-buyer loves but are too weird-seeming to sell.) A few months or a year later, I taste the wine again, and optimistically buy a few more to put on the shelf, to be ignored once more by the majority of consumers.

Well, their loss. You and me, we know better. We look beyond the superficial. We go to the prom with someone who is going to be so much fun that it’s almost – but not – too much fun.

As you might imagine, the streets of Maine do not exactly run knee-deep in scheurebe. In fact, one of the more interesting ones available here is from Austria, not Germany, where the grape is known as sämling 88 (“sämling” means “seedling,” and 88 was Dr. Scheu’s code for the vine he crossbred to create the grape). However, the ones you can find locally avoid the pitfalls and exalt the potential. Enjoy your senior year.

Strauss Sämling 88 Classic 2013, $18. The pale green color belies the exotic, quiet intensity of this Austrian wine. Moderate yellow grapefruit flavor will pull in the lovers of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, while the subdued musk and lychee notes will tempt aficionados of dry Alsatian gewürztraminer and muscat. Vibratory acidity, a dry finish, and 11.5 percent alcohol – not to mention a screw-cap Stelvin enclosure – make this an outstanding summery picnic or boat wine.

Geil Bechtheimer Scheurebe Kabinett 2014, $18. This vintage was outstanding for scheurebe, a legendary year according to the grape’s master growers, when ripeness and acidity came together perfectly. I’ve experienced it significantly more viscous and tropical in the past, but prefer this vintage’s nimbleness. Geil bottles two versions, this spicy off-dry wine (9.5 percent alcohol), and a Trocken (dry) not available in Maine. Both are bottled early to preserve some natural CO2, reflected here in a lovely slight effervescence that helps balance out the touch of sweetness. It’s more lavish than the Strauss, suggesting not just currants but herbs fried in brown butter – a hint for how to sauce the trout you should serve it with.

Joe Appel is the Wine Buyer at Rosemont Market. He can be reached at:

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