German Wine


Forget the insipid sweet pap that is Liebfraumilch; Germany is home to world-class wines.

Full-bodied white wines, rich oaky Chardonnay, silky Pinot Noirs … If you don't associate these with Germany, then you need to forget your prejudices. Yes, there is still plenty of bland, off-dry white, but there are several treasures as well.

Those who ignore German wine because of bad experiences with Liebfraumilch are missing out on some smashing wines. Riesling remains the trump card, but Germany has plenty more to offer.

Decades of Liebfraumilch, combined with unhelpful labeling, means that many people avoid German wine completely. Yet the wines can be fabulous. Riesling is the star grape. For light, off-dry styles, look at Kabinett and Spätlese wines from the Mosel-Saar Ruwer and Nahe. For something fuller and richer, try the Pfalz and Rheinhessen, while for the best dry Rieslings, head for the Rheingau.

Those with a sweet tooth should seek out wines labeled Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Other common white varieties include Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) and the tangy, grapefruity Scheurebe. Production of red wine is also on the increase. Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) can be very good, if a tad oaky (and expensive). Dornfelder is better value, and comes in a style reminiscent of earthy, raspberry-scented Beaujolais.



As recently as 1919, the French wine region of Alsace was part of Germany.



How much Riesling is there in the typical Liebfraumilch?



Little, if any at all.