If you are not drinking German wine, you are missing out - here's why!
1. They put the “cool” in cool climate
With some of the northernmost winegrowing regions in Europe, the vineyards of Germany are definitively cool, with less sunshine and lower temperatures than those of Southern Europe. The cooler growing climate, alongside the warming influence of the Gulf Stream and the positioning of vineyards on steep south-facing slopes, allows for a variety of grapes to thrive here. Across its 13 regions, Germany's unique terroirs support the slow and steady ripening of winegrapes over a long growing season, giving the vineyards time to soak in the sun and soil. All this supports the production of well-structured and balanced wines.
2. It’s not just about Riesling…
Yes, we all associate Germany with Riesling, but there is more to German wine than this single grape. Alongside Riesling, you’ll find notable examples of Silvaner, Pinot Gris (called Grauburgunder), and Pinot Blanc (called Weissburgunder), which deliver wines that are full-bodied yet fresh. In fact, about 67% of vineyards in Germany are planted to white wine grape varieties. That other 33% of plantings is made up of red grapes, the primary one being Pinot Noir, locally known as Spätburgunder. Germany is so dedicated to this grape, it ranks 3rd in vineyard area devoted to Pinot Noir in the world. Loving the cool-climate and the unique soils, this most noble red variety produces wines that are perfectly balanced and worth a try for anyone who enjoys red Burgundy.
3. …but Riesling here is awesome
Riesling is the noble grape of Germany, taking up over 23% of the country’s vineyards. As a slow-ripening grape, Riesling loves Germany’s long, cool growing seasons and rocky, mineral soils. German Riesling displays an entire range of styles, from bone dry and mineral-driven to lusciously sweet and decadently juicy. While it’s difficult to try and define a “typical” German Riesling, some common traits include refreshing and pronounced acidity, floral aromas, and peach and apple notes. Those from slate-y soils will show mineral and stony notes, while Rieslings with age begin to show off petrol-like characteristics (trust me, this is a good thing!).
4. It’s not all sweet
Trocken. This is the word to look for when seeking dry Riesling. It’s not the only word to guide you to dry, but if you’ve been shying away from German Rieslings fearing soaring sugar levels, Trocken will help you explore the dry world of Riesling. And it’s a delicious world… German Riesling gives this amazing balance of zesty acidity and juicy fruit, plus it’s typically lower in alcohol than most wines, so you can sip it all day long. Trust me, you’ll want to.
5. But the sweet stuff will make you swoon
Look for words like Auslese, and Beerenauslese on the label. These wines are produced from Riesling grapes with higher sugar levels when picked, and when vinified, typically not all of the sugar in them is converted to alcohol. With these wines, you get decadent fruit flavors, rich sweetness, but that same pronounced acidity that balances the wine out. Because of that, these wines will age gracefully for decades and develop into some of the most fascinating and intense dessert wines you’ll ever taste.