Essentials Series: German Wine
Just like the rest of Europe, the wines of Germany reflect their people and their culture. While Spanish and Italian wines are known for being lush and dramatic, German wines are crisp and austere, with subtle but fragrant flavors.
In Germany, white wines rule, making up over 65% of the country’s vineyards, most of which are found in the western part of the nation. Red wine does have its own stake but mostly with Pinot Noir, of which Germany is the third largest producer of in the world. It’s got well over 250,000 acres of vineyards but that’s only about a tenth of what Italy and Spain own, making it eighth in the world for wine production.
Germany is one of the most northernmost countries within Europe, and the vineyards within it reside in the northern parts of the country itself, making it ideal for picky grapes like Riesling and Pinot Noir. The long ripening windows plus extreme attention to detail in the growing techniques have allowed German winemakers to produce some of the best Rieslings in the world.
Unlike the six noble grapes or the common varietals found around the rest of Europe, the grapes of Germany are pretty particular to the country itself.
Riesling: A crisp white wine that can contain flavors like peach and apricot, with citrus crispness and aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle. They span a pretty large range between dry and sweet, and those Riesling grapes that stay on the vine longer will emanate flavors of vanilla and clove.
Muller- Thurgau: The second most planted grape in Germany and a white wine that is fresh and light. It’s made of a blend of Riesling and Madeleine Royale, which brings a Muscat sweetness.
Spätburgunder: Also known as Pinot Noir, it’s a little lighter in color and body than its counterparts from other parts of the world
Silvaner: An austere, intense white wine that is full-bodied and dry.
There are about 13 major wine- growing regions of Germany but here are the ones you’ll hear about most:
- Mosel: Home to gorgeous sloping hills, this region is known for the Riesling. Its slanted vineyards and slate soil allow the grapes to soak up as much sun as possible, which means hand harvesting- a process that allows for a cleaner, more pure flavor from the grapes.
- Rhinegau: Although it’s only a third the size of Mosel, Rhinegau is also well-known for its Riesling, as it’s 80% of the planted grapes of the region. The Riesling of Rhinegau is spicier and bolder with more minerality than the rest of the country.
- Rheinhessen: Residing on the Rhine river, Rheinhessen is the largest of the 13 wine-producing regions of Germany. White wine makes up about 70% of the area but reds are common here too.