Johannisberg Riesling. Kloster Eberbach. The Geisenheim Research Institute. These famous names remind us that the Rheingau has always been at the center of Germany’s winemaking tradition.
The Mittelrhein is magical. Whether you visit the Rhine River valley by car, boat or on foot, you’ll fall in love with the steep, vine-covered hillsides peppered with castles. This wine region, which stretches from just south of Bonn to Bingen, is one of my favorites. Here I feel transported to a time of legend, and for good reason. The Mittelrhein’s crags are part of German folklore.
During my recent trip to Germany, I spent a lot of time exploring wine regions in the western part of the country. On one memorable day, I drove most of the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Route) in the Pfalz wine region with my family.
I step out of the “working van,” as our tasting guide, Nathalie Müller, parks next to rows and rows of grapevines. My husband and friends clamber down and inhale the clean air. High above the town of Leimen, I can see the grapevines stretching across the hills. Ms. Müller grabs a plastic crate of wine bottles and offers us each a wine glass. Deftly, she opens a bottle and pours 2006 Leimener Kreuzweg Auxerrois dry Kabinett into our glasses.
About a year ago, I made my first trip to Franken (Franconia). I fell in love with the gently rolling green hills, the colorful, historic cities and the welcoming people. Throughout our visit, which lasted nearly a week, I felt completely happy, surrounded by history, nature and vibrant culture. I also fell in love with Franken wine.
You did want to know how to say, “Trockenbeerenauslese,” didn’t you? Auslese - OWS-lay-zuh Beerenauslese - Buh-air-en OWS-lay-zuh Deutsche Landwein - DOYTCH-uh LANDT-vine Deutsche Tafelwein - DOYTCH-uh TOFF-el-vine Eiswein - ICE-vine Kabinett - Kahb-in-ET Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete -...
Germany’s wine styles can be difficult to understand. This is due partly to the fact that you can’t automatically tell how a German wine will taste by reading its style on the label. Unlike French wine styles, which are based on terroir, or Italian wine styles, which focus on geographical zones and specific blends of grape varieties, German wine styles are based on grape ripeness. Add in the long style names – how do you pronounce Trockenbeerenauslese, anyway? – and it’s easy to see why many wine drinkers stop trying to learn more about German wines.
A few days ago, I celebrated one of those “milestone” birthdays. You know, the ones with a zero or five at the end of the (hopefully) two-digit number. Fortunately, my husband lifted me out of my “I’m aging” depression with a truly wonderful gift: a box of carefully-selected German wines. Huh? Who drinks German wine, anyway? It’s not popular. And all the bottles have nuns on them, right?