German Wines

Germany, with its profound and expressive wines, stands as a global icon in winemaking, particularly revered for its undervalued and misunderstood gems. For almost 2,000 years, Germany has epitomized cool-climate viticulture, pushing the northern limits and coaxing grapes to greatness through unique combinations of sun exposure, topography, and soils.

As the unmatched benchmark for Riesling production globally, Germany hosts over half of the world's Riesling vines. Additionally, regional grapes like Silvaner, Scheurebe, and Müller-Thurgau yield exceptional white wines, while Germany ranks as the third-largest Pinot Noir producer worldwide, known locally as Spätburgunder.

Contrary to common belief, German wines are not exclusively sweet; an increasing majority today are crafted in a dry (trocken) style, reaching unprecedented quality levels. The thirteen wine regions of Germany, spanning diverse climates and terroirs, have benefited from climate change, enhancing their viticultural landscapes.

The key wine regions include:

  1. Mosel: Germany's most famous wine region, the Mosel, is renowned for its laser-cut Rieslings, ranging from dry to unctuously sweet. The region's unique combination of cool climates, intense sunlight, and rocky slate soils contributes to wines with intense flavors and elegant structures.

  2. Rheingau: Identified by its abrupt turn in the Rhine River, the Rheingau features vineyards with mild winters and warm summers. Known for fine acidity and distinctive mineral tones, Rheingau's Rieslings are plush and silkier, making up 80% of vineyard plantings.

  3. Rheinhessen: South of Rheingau, Rheinhessen boasts a dynamic wine scene with diverse grape varieties. The region's soil diversity, including the famous Roter Hang, contributes to complex expressions of Riesling, Silvaner, and Burgundian varieties.

  4. Nahe: Tucked between mountain ranges, Nahe offers the widest range of soil types. Celebrated for Riesling, the region's diverse terroir fosters exceptional examples of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.

  5. Franken: Known for Silvaner, Franken's vineyards on rocky soils yield bone-dry, textural white wines. The region also produces noteworthy Riesling and Pinot Noir, reflecting its rich history and culture.

  6. Pfalz: South of Rheinhessen, Pfalz enjoys a southerly latitude and diverse soils, producing opulent bone-dry Rieslings, Pinot Noir, and aromatic whites like Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.

  7. Baden: The southernmost region, Baden, is renowned for richly concentrated expressions of the Pinot trio. The region's diversity of soils contributes to the complexity of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc.

  8. Ahr: North of the Mosel, the Ahr Valley specializes in perfumed, bright-fruited expressions of Pinot Noir, benefiting from a uniquely sheltered microclimate and volcanic soils.

Germany's wine regions offer a diverse and evolving landscape, showcasing not only the iconic Riesling but also a broad array of varietals, styles, and terroirs.

Choosing a Dry Wine

Trocken, QbA, Qualitätswein, Grosses Gewächs

While “trocken” translates to “dry” in German, the other terms above indicate dryness according to various classifications systems. Any of these terms on a label indicates a wine has been vinified dry.

Hint: If dryness level cannot be found on the label, look at the alcohol content. Generally, the lower the alcohol, the higher the residual sugar.