Over the last few decades, German wine has acquired a somewhat negative reputation of being cheap and sweet. However, German wine is much more than just Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch and Hock. The country boasts a range of good quality and great tasting wines - you just need to know what to look for and how to get the most from them.
The most common white grape grown in Germany is Riesling and this makes arguably the finest German wine available. Riesling is a hardy little grape, being able to withstand the harsh winters that are often present in Germany. It produces a wine that is generally light in body and alcohol and that ranges from dry and crisp to sweet and unctuous. Riesling makes a great aperitif and also works well with spicy foods. Other white German wines, a little more unusual perhaps but certainly worth a taste, are Silvaner, Muller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris.
If red wine is more your thing, you should taste Spatburgunder. You may have come across this as Pinot Noir in other wine growing countries and it makes a deliciously fine and fruity wine. Red wine is harder to produce in the German climate but another good grape definitely worth a try is Dornfelder, which is generally darker and richer.
Understanding the Language
To help you in your quest for German wines, you might need a hand with the language and terminology. “Troken” is a good word to know, as it indicates that a wine is dry. If you see “Kabinett” Riesling, this means that the wine will be very light and crisp. “Spatlese” Rieslings will have more flavour and sweetness than a Kabinett wine, whereas “Auslese” Rieslings are sweeter, richer and fuller again.
If you fancy tasting a more unusual German wine then “Eiswein”, which literally means “Ice wine”, is common in Germany and might appeal. Eiswein is a tasty sweet German wine, which is packed full of fruit flavours. It is made from grapes which are left on the vine until it is cold enough for the water in the grapes to freeze. This concentrates the sugars without adding any flavours. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Eiswein is not the cheapest German wine that you will come across, as the tricky grape picking process makes it quite expensive to produce.
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Louise Truswell works in and writes about the wine industry – writing about German Wine. To find out more and to choose from a selection of German wine, visit - www.virginwines.com
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