Pop quiz: How much do you really know about German wine?
At this time of the year my palate changes and I start craving more refreshing styles of wine. I always end up rediscovering German wines – like an album you played to death and haven’t heard since last summer. I love reconnecting with these wines.
German wines have a bad reputation in the UK. I’ve had lots of experiences of guests turning their noses up at them. There is a lot of misinformation out there so let’s clear the air and I’ll recommended some of my favourites.
False: ‘All German wine is sweet’
Some of the best and finest white wines in the world are dry German wines. We used to have an incredibly sweet tooth for alcohol in the UK, so the sweeter styles of wine is all we drank.
There’s a whole range and scale of sweetness – a lot of wineries now label their wines to make it clearer. Sweetness in wines is described by the amount of residual sugar in the wine – this is measured as grams per litre. Anything below 10 grams of sugar per litre is considered as dry and anything below 1 gram of sugar is bone dry.
Probably false: ‘I don’t like Riesling’
‘Reece-Ling’ Is such a misunderstood grape variety. It’s a shame some people get confused with fruit and sweetness. Riesling and other Germanic grape varieties are naturally fruit-forward with wonderful flavours and aromas of green apples and fresh lemon. These are balanced by the natural acidity of the grape, especially in Riesling.
It’s my favourite white grape variety and I’d really love more people to enjoy but it can be overpowering to some. Try it with traditional Thai or Chinese food – the grape gets to work balancing the sweetness and compliments the exotic flavours with an aromatic profile.
False: ‘All German wine is Riesling’
Riesling is the king of German wines, producing the highest quality bottles and making up a quarter of the grapes. But there are plenty of other white grapes to look out for, including some of my favourites; Bacchus, Ortega, Scheurebe, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Kerner, Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.
If you prefer red grapes then look out for Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). Germany is in the top five producers of Pinot Noir in the world in terms or volume. Some Burgundy drinkers will be happily surprised with the quality and affordability of German Pinot Noir.
False: Germans only make white wine
Their pink wines are fabulous and unlike a lot of others they have plenty of structure and personality. German sparkling wines, known as ‘Sekt’, represent excellent value for money. They’re not well known in the UK, with most of it being drank in Germany. My favourite producer of Sekt is Peter Lauer – his wines are some of my favourite sparkles in the world.
My German wine picks
2019 Palmberg Riesling Trocken from Stein – A style of classic Mosel Riesling. Wonderful bright fruit with plenty of green apples, fresh citrus and beeswax on the palate with a inviting floral nose. From wild ungrafted vines some of which are over 100 years old, because of this there’s so much concentration of flavour in the wine.
2019 Riesling Maximin from Maximin Grunhaus – A slightly off-dry style of Riesling with a little bit of residual sugar. This is perfect wine for a spicy Mexican/ Thai takeaway. It will really complement the exotic food. This is a 6th generation wine estate that specialises in making high quality wines from some of the steepest and most spectacular parts of the Mosel.
2017 Thorle Spatburgunder – We travel east of the Mosel over to the Rheinhessen region. An organic estate with the highest agricultural standards ran by two brothers. The quality of the fruit in the vineyard translates to the glass. Such a pure and interesting expression of Pinot Noir – this is one for the red burgundy lovers.