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Ask someone to name a German wine and most people will give you the names of cheap bland sugary brands, which unfortunately Germany has now become associated with. German wine is more than Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch or Hock however. There is a wealth of very good quality delicious wine waiting to be discovered.
Winters in Germany are cold, and although summer and autumn are warmer, there is plenty of wind and rain to lash at grapes on a vine. Varieties grown in Germany have to be hardy to withstand the elements. Luckily Riesling is a hardy little grape, which because of the climate ripens slowly and develops rich complex flavours. River mists encourage noble rot, which makes sweet German wine. Although there are some good reds being produced, the majority of German wines are whites.
The widest grown grape is Riesling, which makes arguably the finest wines in Germany. Other white grapes grown include Silvaner, Muller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris but these are in much lower quantities.
The brilliantly named Spatburgunder, which makes delicate fine reds, is actually Pinot Noir so if you are a fan, look out for these wines. Also keep an eye out for deep red German wines made from Dornfelder, which can be a good price because they are relatively unheard of!
The best vineyards are on the mineral rich steep slopes around Germany's river valleys. Each region has a slightly different style owing to the soil, climate and tradition. Wines from the Mosel Saar Ruwer region can be lighter in style than other areas, but can be pricey. There are some good cheaper German wines to be found in less popular areas such as the Rheinhessen, around the Rhine, and Baden, in the south of Germany. Each area will have its share of very expensive and better value wines however, so it's worth exploring a little.
Wines from Germany are unique in style. Whites (mostly Rieslings) are generally light in body and alcohol, and can range from dry and crisp, to sweet and unctuous. Wines (even the sweet ones) are often balanced by good acidity so they made perfect wines for spicy food. Whites are normally low in alcohol too so make perfect aperitifs. German wines can be costly but they are well worth a try!
Reds can range from being light and fruity in the case of Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), to the deep and dusky Dornfelder. Traditionally reds were produced for the home market only, but there are now some very decent reds being produced for export too.