Wine 101: Germany

Guest blogger Kathleen Robinson is the Wine Consultant at our Lake Wales store.

One of the more challenging wine regions for beginners to explore is Germany. To that end, here’s a quick reference to make it a little easier to figure out just what those labels are referring to.

Germany has the most northerly vines and so they are known for white wines, predominately the Riesling grape, which grows here when most other wine grapes won’t.  Which is to say that most German wines you see on the rack in our stores are Riesling. Immediately you know to expect food-friendly wines with crisp acidity and peach, apple, and pear flavors, and flowery aromas, that will pair perfectly with spicy foods (Thai food, spicy grilled shrimp….)

Where it can get a little confusing for people is in the different label designations, starting with Kabinett. There are six harvests in Germany including Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese.  Most people assume that the sweetness level always goes up as you go down the list. However, the idea that the longer on the vine the sweeter the wine just counts for the sugar content at the time of harvest.  All wines can be fermented dry and were for many years since the technology to stop fermentation is relatively new in the grand scheme. Now, of course, if you’re looking for a German dessert wine, you’ll head directly for one of the last three on the list: beerenauslese, eiswein, or trockenbeerenauslese. Those three cannot be made dry.

The new trend coming out of Germany is red wine with only two internationally known grapes: Dornfelder and Spatbrugunder (Pinot Noir).  Although not as well known as the white wines yet, they’re worth giving a try if you’re in the mood for something new. So there really is something for every type of taste in Germany!

Kathleen Robinson, Lake Wales Wine Consultant

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