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Posts Tagged ‘German Wines’

Six Reasons to Drink German Wine

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Friend-worthy German Wines

Sloped German Vineyard

Sloped German Vineyard

It seems German wines have come full circle. There was a time back in the 70s and 80s when mass-produced, low-quality German wines were the rage in the United States. But as young drinkers grew into adulthood, their palates evolved from drinking sweet wines to dry styles. The wines that were imported were not seen as adult enough to enjoy at dinner with friends or while socializing. As a result, German wines became ‘so yesterday’ and got left behind along with other cheap beverages of youth.

Nowadays, there are plenty of quality German wines that are perfect as dinner companions. I believe a rediscovery of German wines is in order.

Here are six reasons to drink German wines again.


They are Not All Sweet

1. As a result of the American encounter with German wines in the 1970s, many wine drinkers mistakenly believe that all Riesling wines are sweet.  It’s simply not true.
German Rieslings are produced in six different styles. These levels of sweetness range from a semi-sweet, light style to an extremely sweet, rich, almost syrupy to the most-esteemed dessert wines. There is a German Riesling perfectly matched for any  occasion.


Esteemed Rieslings

2. This beautifully aromatic grape rewards the drinker with citrus, pineapple and honey. Wines from the famous Mosel region, are valued because of their slate flavor profile and floral bouquet. Rieslings from the Rheingau region, with its desirable south facing slopes, taste of apricot and peach. As they mature, Rieslings develop a petrol-like aroma. In addition, German Rieslings are typically low in alcohol by volume, which helps make them a nice sipping wine for a sunny afternoon.


Beyond Riesling
Riesling Vineyards Rheingau

Vineyards in Rheingau

3. Although Germany is primarily known for their prized Rieslings, there are other superb white wines to enjoy. White grape varieties grown throughout Germany include:

  • Müller-Thurgau – This grape is named after the Switzerland professor who created it from a cross of Riesling and Silvaner. It’s a light wine with a floral bouquet.
  • Silvaner – A full-bodied earthy and smoky wine with nice minerality grown in Rheinhessen and Franken.
  • Kerner – This grape was developed in 1969 and is a cross between Trollinger and Riesling. It too has a floral bouquet but is milder in acidity than a Riesling. It closely resembles a Muscat.
  • Grauburgunder – Translates to Gray Burgundy and is the same grape variety as Pinot Gris. It’s also referred to as Rulander, which is a full-bodied, rich fragrant wine.
  • Weissburgunder -The German name for Pinot Blanc is grown primarily in the Baden and Pfalz regions.  Weissburgunder is a great seafood wine.

There are also small amounts of international varieties grown including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer.


Wonderful Pinot Noir
Drink German Pinot Noir

Sip German Pinot Noir in the Vineyard

4. The German name for Pinot Noir is Spätburgunder. Pinot Noir is the third-most planted grape in country, particularly in Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Baden. The naturally cool German climate is a perfect growing environment for Pinot Noir. Spätburgunder has low tannins and is very fruit forward with elegant raspberry, strawberry, and cherry flavors.


Great food-pairing wines

5. This sweetness classification system gives German wines the ability to pair with myriad foods. Improvement in the quality of German wines has almost been lockstep with the culinary wave. German wines are often paired with regional cuisine served by internationally renowned chefs in the 250 or so Michelin-starred restaurants that spanned the country. Only France has more Michelin three-star restaurants.


Cellar Worthy

6. Rieslings are among the most-long-lived white wines. Their naturally high acidity serves as a preservative; and when combined with the residual sugar, you have a wine that can age gracefully for decades.

Due to the rise in global warming, German wines have actually benefited. This was particularly evident in the vintages of 2005 and 2007, which were considered two of the best in decades.


Mosel Riesling

Mosel Vineyard Riesling

I’ve shared six reasons to drink German wines but there are plenty more. If you want to drink wine at the source, in the vineyard, then you should seriously consider taking a trip to Germany.  We offer river cruises to many of these regions, allowing you the opportunity to experience the wine, culture and unique architecture firsthand. A river cruise through wine country is a perfect way to celebrate a milestone birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. Call us so we can plan your special European river cruise vacation.






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German Wine Ripeness Primer

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In Germany, Ripeness = Quality

Refractorometer for measuring sugar levels

Refractometer measures sugar levels

Here’s a quick guide on German wine categories. As a member of the European Union, German wines fall into two broad categories as either table wine or quality wine. I bet American consumers would be  surprised to learn that approximately 90% of German wines are classified as quality wines. Germany’s classification system  categorizes wines by their level of sweetness or ripeness. Since Germany has a cold-growing climate, it’s more difficult for grapes to ripen. Therefore, the riper the grapes, the better the quality. In essence, ripeness equals sweetness. But this doesn’t that all German wines are sweet wines.

German wines of quality come from 1 of 13 specific wine-growing regions. The grapes in these regions are typically riper than in other parts of the country and are subject to much higher production standards.

The basic quality wines, Qualitätswein are suitable for everyday drinking. They are wines designed to be consumed young. The next level is called Selection and they are of a more superior quality dry wine, perfect for fine dining.

Age-worthy German Wines

Age-worthy German Wines

The highest in this classification system, Prädikatswein means a wine with special attributes. These are premium wines made from fully ripened botrytis-affected grapes. They have the ability to age for decades.

When trying to read a German wine label, look for the following words to describe ascending levels of sweetness to help you determine a wine that is appropriate for your occasion. The German wine ripeness primer explains the six levels of sweetness.

1. Kabinett – This is a light-bodied wine with low alcohol, typically ranging between 7% and 10%.

2. Spätlese – This translates to “late harvest”. It’s a well-rounded wine with balance and intense flavors.

3. Auslese – A wine that is considered noble wine. It has a strong floral bouquet. These “selected harvest” grapes can have an alcohol by volume (ABV) up to 14%.

Riesling Ripening on the Vine

Riesling Ripening on the Vine

4. Beerenauslese – These “selected berries” wines are made from overripe grapes that were individually hand selected. They are quite rare and produce exquisite wines. They have a lovely honey aroma.

5. Eiswein – This wine is made from grapes that have been left on the vine to freeze. They are picked while frozen, which gives them an intense concentration of acidity, as well as sweetness. They are some of the most age-worthy wines in the world.

6. Trockenbeerenauslese – The grapes used to produce this wine are raisin like. Because of the intense concentration of sweetness due to the shriveled up grapes, this wine produces very low yield. As a result they are quite expensive and reserved for the most special of occasions, unless you have an unlimited wine budget.

German wines are not all alike.  Each deserves a fresh look and taste to determine just which ones are right you and your occasion.

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