German Culture: German Wine

Peter Rodd

The Wines of Germany.

German wines are mainly white: the ratio of white to red wine produced in Germany is about 4 to 1.

There are quarter of a million acres of vineyards in Germany.

Prices of quality German wine in Germany are about 40% of the prices one would pay for the same wine in the USA and the UK.

White German wines can accompany a meal or be used for sipping.


•The reason to drink German wine is Riesling.
•2001 and 2002 were very good years for Riesling.
•On the label, look for one of the following expressions (showing the wine was estate-bottled) "Erzeugerabfüllung" or "Gutsabfüllung"
[Note: Liebfraumilch / Piesporter Michelsburg / Zeller Schwarze Katz. These are inferior wines, despite being the ones that immediately spring to mind when German wine is discussed.]

German Wine Regions

Ahr: a tributary of the Rhine, the River Ahr. Produces pinot noir of no great merit.

Baden: Look out for the good Spätburgunder [pinot noir] wines from the Baden region.

Franken: Silvaner wines are the ones to look out for.

Hessische Bergstraße: the Grauburgunder [pinot gris] is the wine to look for from this area.

Mittelrhein: the vineyards can be seen adjacent to castles along the Rhine. Mainly Riesling produced here.

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: cheap inferior wines interspersed with some of the great Rieslings money can buy.

Nahe: good wine at reasonable prices, especially the slightly sweeter Riesling.

Pfalz: some solid whites from this area.

Rheingau: dependable quality of Riesling from this region.

Rheinhessen: good prices for good wines.

Saale-Unstrut: dry wines from Müller-Thurgau here.

Sachsen: not particularly good wine for the money.

Württemburg: the Trollinger red is much consumed, but is not considered anything special by international standards.


This is the term used in Britain for white Rhine wines in general (from Hochheim, on the River Main).

Grape Varieties in Germany

Bacchus = Silvaner/Riesling. Mueller-Thurgau hybrid (Lake Constance area).

Gewürztraminer = also called Traminer or Clevner.

Grauburgunder = also called Ruländer (Baden area).

Gutedel = light, dry wine (Baden area).

Kerner = hardy vines produce wine close to a Riesling.

Mueller-Thurgau = one for the pub quiz: Dr Mueller from Thurgau (CH) bred this grape.

Muskateller = very little is produced of this old variety.

Nobling = a Silvaner and Gutedel cross; fruity with good acidity.

Riesling = some say the world's best white wine.

Scheurebe = Silvaner-Riesling cross; full-bodied. currant bouquet.

Silvaner = delicate bouquet. (Freiburg-Rhein area).

Spätburgunder = (red) pinot noir.

Weisser Burgunder = pinot blanc. The dry version accompanies a meal well.

There are two broad quality types of wine produced in the European Union (EU): table wine and quality wine. Every German vineyard can produce either table or quality wine, unlike in France, where some vineyards are reserved for one category or the other.

Deutscher Tafelwein is equivalent to French Vin de Table.
Deutscher Landwein is equivalent to French Vin de Pays.

Quality Wine

Qualitätswein b.A. (QbA) - quality wine selected from one of the 13 specified wine producing regions (above).

Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) - quality wine with special attributes from one area or district (Bereich) selected from one of the 13 specified wine producing regions (above).

German Wine Qualities


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