Have you tried these German wines?
Have you tried these German wines?
Think you know your German wines? We've no doubt that many of you are quite the experts already! Those newer to Deutschland might not have had many occasions to expand their palates beyond white Rieslings and red Spätburgunders – or what we English speakers better know as a Pinot Noir. Why not use this stay-at-home time to explore the world of German wines? That way, when the next wine fest does roll around, you can order your next bottle like the true expert you’ve since become. Here are seven varieties you may wish to try. (We tried to find just the right balance between lesser-known types and those you won’t have to search high and low for.)
What’s your favorite German wine?
Auxerrois: This white is believed to have originated in France's Burgundy region back in the Middle Ages. Nowadays it is seen most frequently in Luxembourg, France's Alsace region and in more southern parts of Germany. It generally has a mild acidity and a strong character. Newly bottled, it may taste of quince, melon or citrus, whereas aged, it may remind its drinker of honey and toasted almonds. It pairs nicely with fish, asparagus or cream cheese.
Gewürztraminer: The scent of roses gives wines made from this great grape away. It's grown predominantly in Italy’s South Tyrol, Australia, New Zealand, and the Alsace. In Germany, you will see it primarily in the Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Baden regions. It's known and loved by its most passionate fans for its aromatic bouquet, described as green and spicy with notes of cloves, violets, lychees, honey and passion fruit. It tastes wonderful with a ragout, Asian dishes and blue cheeses. Wines made from late harvests of highly ripened, sweet grapes are used as an aperitif which goes nicely with marzipan or apple-based desserts.
Sauvignon Blanc: This type of wine traces its origins to France’s Loire Valley. Today it’s found around the world, and its taste will vary greatly depending on its origin. Its aromas range from blackcurrant and gooseberry to what are termed “green” notes, for example freshly mowed grass or green pepper. Try it with an Asian-inspired shrimp dish or seafood and pasta in a creamy sauce.
Blaufränkisch: Also known as Limberger or Lemberger, this dark-skinned grape traces its origins to Austria and Hungary. In Germany, the grape is grown primarily in the Württemberg wine region near Stuttgart. This late-ripening grape produces a tannin-rich wine with a spicy character with cherry and berry notes. It's sometimes combined with Cabernet Sauvignon, Spätburgunder or Trollinger to produce a cuvée. It pairs well with game birds and strong, spicy cheeses.
Regent: Qualities such as its early maturity, high must weight, and frost and disease resistance make this grape a hit among winegrowers, particularly in the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Baden and Franconia. It’s a relative newcomer to the wine scene, having been approved for quality wine production in Germany in 1996. Wines made of Regent grapes are full-bodied and reminiscent of Mediterranean wines, with aromas of cherries or currants. Regent wines don’t need a lot of aging and pair particularly well with salami, lamb or other intensely flavored meat dishes.
St. Laurent: This relative rarity was nearly lost back in the 1960s, but has since undergone a renaissance, predominantly in the Rheinhessen and Pfalz regions. Outside Germany, it’s particularly popular in Austria and the Czech Republic. The grape takes its name for its tendency to start ripening close to Saint Lawrence Day on Aug. 10. St. Laurent wines are deep red, fresh and fruity, with aromas of wild cherry, blackberry, smoke or spice. The wine matures nicely in an oak cask. This sophisticated wine can hold its own as an accompaniment to a hearty gourmet dinner of Sauerbraten or blackened pork. Sample aside a mature and nutty cheese or a spice cookie for maximum impact.
We end this peek at the German wine world with a type of wine that’s highly beloved in summer - the rosé. Rosé wines come about through a gentle press of red grapes. The resulting mash is left to rest just long enough for the pigments in the grape skins time to tint the juice, from which point the mash is fully pressed and the resulting pink juice fermented into wine.
The term “Weißherbst” on a label denotes that the wine has been produced with just one single variety of grape. Although commonly made with Spätburgunder, Portugieser grapes are also often used in the creation of a Weißherbst. Whichever grape variety was used must be clearly indicated on the label, and the wine must be a product of the Ahr, Baden, Franconia, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz or Württemberg wine-growing regions.
Schwarzriesling: What literally translates into black Riesling bears no relation to Germany’s most famous white and is in fact a Pinot Meunier. A bottle of Schwarzriesling Weißherbst is most likely to turn up in the Württemberg region. Its aroma will likely be one of subtle red fruit, perhaps a ripe raspberry or strawberry. Such a wine would drink great on its own or pair delightfully with a summer salad with chicken strips or fish straight off the grill.
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