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    Origins of German Wines

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    Nobody knows when and where wine first appeared, but certainly wild vines existed long before man ? as long as 130 million years ago ? and modern scientific tests have shown that wine was produced by man 8,000 years ago, although these early wines could have borne little resemblance to our modern vintages.

    The history of German wines began with the ancient Romans who conquered the region about 100 B.C. and started cultivating grapes soon thereafter. In the Middle Ages the monastic orders established many of Germany's finest vineyards and, with their meticulous care of the vines and wines, set the standard for the high quality of German viticulture. The Church's vineyards were divided up and sold to private owners and the states when Napoleon conquered the Rhine region in 1803 ? yet the vineyards thrived and the fame of their wines continued. Since then there has been constant progress and development.

    The most northerly of the wine-growing countries, Germany produces the loveliest, lightest, most delicate white wines in the world. Low in alcohol and exquisitely balanced, they are wines of charm and subtle nuances. Other wine countries have planted the same grapes ? most notably, the Riesling ? and tried to make the same wines, but they have been, at best, imitations. Other factors which contribute to the unique character of German wines, such as soil structure and climate, simply cannot be relocated.

    The wines grown in Germany are extremely diverse, although they bear a family resemblance. Tasting is the best way to appreciate the special character of German wines, as well as to understand the subtle differences which distinguish a Rhine wine from a Mosel wine, or a Riesling from a Silvaner, or a simple table wine from a late-harvested wine. This booklet will provide some useful information about the factors which influence the character/taste of German wines: grape variety, climate, soil, practice of harvesting grapes at various degrees of ripeness.

    Grapes Grown in Germany

    Germany has nearly 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres) of vineyards. About 87 % of this area is planted in white grape varieties; only 13 % in red grape varieties. By contrast, the worldwide ratio of white to red wine cultivation is almost exactly the opposite.

    Grape Variety and the Label

    If at least 85 % of a wine is made from one kind of grape, the name of the variety may be indicated on the label. This tells you what to expect with regard to the color, taste, aroma and acidity of the wine.

    White Grape Varieties


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    is now the most widely planted grape in Germany (24 % of total vineyard area). It is a crossing of two varieties, probably Riesling and Silvaner, developed in 1882 in Geisenheim, Germany, by Prof. H. M?ller from Thurgau, Switzerland. The grapes ripen early, usually in September.

    Wine: flowery bouquet; milder acidity than Riesling; slight muscat flavor; best consumed while fresh and young.



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    is the finest and best known of Germany's white varieties (21%). Its small grapes ripen late ? in October or November. This long, slow ripening period allows it to develop more aroma and a harmonious balance.

    Wine: fragrant, fine-fruit bouquet; lively, pronounced acidity; piquant taste; potential for aging because of racy acidity.



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    is a traditional variety (8 %). Its medium-sized, juicy grapes ripen somewhat earlier than Riesling. Wine: neutral bouquet; mild acidity; full-bodied, pleasant wines; best enjoyed while young.



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    is a popular new crossing (7 %), developed from Trollinger {a red variety) and Riesling (a white variety). It has thick-skinned, early-ripening grapes.

    Wine: light muscat bouquet; racy, lively acidity; similar to Riesling.



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    (4 %) is another new crossing of Silvaner and Riesling.

    Wine: lively acidity; bouquet and taste reminiscent of black currants.



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    (Pinot gris) is among the best varieties in Germany (3 %). It ripens at the same time as Silvaner.

    Wine: robust, full-bodied, smooth, soft, and full on the palate.


    Other white varieties:

    Variety is the spice of life! There are other white wine varieties in Germany that are just as interesting and which you should try: the fruity, flowery Bacchus, the light, mild Gutedel, the racy, neutral Elbling, or the Morio-Muskat, with its flowery bouquet and pronounced flavor.


    Red Grape Varieties

    German red wines are refreshing, often light, and show more of a fruity than tannic acidity. They are a specialty, usually consumed where they are grown ? little is exported.



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    (Pinot noir) is the Riesling's red counterpart (5 % of total vineyard area), producing elegant, distinctive wines. Its small grapes ripen late. It originally came from the French province of Burgundy.

    Wine: velvety, full-bodied, with hints of almonds.



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    originally came from the Danube Valley in Austria (not Portugal). It ripens early (3 %).

    Wine: flavorful, light, mild; very pleasant, easygoing wines.



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    grows almost exclusively in W?rttemberg (2 % ) and probably originated in Tyrol. It ripens very late.

    Wine: fragrant, fresh, fruity, good acidity, hearty.



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    Germany's wine regions are concentrated in the south-western part of the country, which is parallel in latitude (50 degrees) to Labrador. Her vineyards are located on steep south-facing slopes, in a few valleys and almost always close to a river which tempers the climate, acting as a heat reflector, helping to maintain a constant temperature day and night. In autumn the mist and fog that rises from the river offers the grapes protection from early frost.

    In addition to the general climate, it is important to consider the micro-climates of individual vineyards. The direction and inclination of a particular slope, the intensity of sunshine reflected from mirroring rivers, a protective ridge of hills or a forested mountain summit, which deflects the wind ? all help the wine achieve its ultimate taste and quality.

    Reproduced courtesy of Deutches Weininstitut Mainz.   Schlossadler International Wines


    German Beer  

    The Absolutely German Drink


    According to a representative survey, beer is a German's favorite drink. 79% of German adults drink beer regularly. 67% of German women and 91% of German men drink beer at least once a month. is one of the best sites offering info on various aspects of beer in Germany.
    The Germans are known to the whole world as a true beer-loving nation. And there is no exaggeration here! The "hops - barley - water - yeast" blend is not that simple as it may probably seem at first sight. The natural components together with minerals and vitamins make the drink special. Beer has been a regular and important component of the daily diet of all population groups for several thousand of years. Beer's history dates back to prehistoric ancient times when the Sumarians discovered the fermentation process (about 6000 years ago). Babylonians and Egyptians developed the art of brewing beer, and passed it to Romans who considered it to be a barbarian drink. The Teutons, the ancient Germans, regarded beer as a sacrifice to the gods. They started producing the first proof beer in the early Hallstatt Period (about 800 B.C.). In the Middle Ages beer brewing turned into a favorite occupation of monks who served it with their meals. The art of brewing beer owes much to monasteries where it was developed scientifically. Then began the flavoring of beer, first in Brabant monasteries, which gave the Brabant king, Gambrinus, the title of patron saint of beer.
    We cannot underestimate the role of beer nowadays. The process of brewing has experienced immense progress, and the beer itself has certainly changed. It is amazing how many beer ENGINEs are produced today in German breweries!

    Besides its outstanding peculiar taste, beer is also highly estimated as an economic factor.

    Germany is the country where beer is greatly praised and served everywhere. So Germans are virtually doomed to enjoy it. And nobody doubts it!

    How to Taste Beer

    Practical advice on how to get to the bottom of a beer stein without losing a bit of the rich taste of German beer. 

    Difficulty Level: Average      Time Required: 20 min

    Here's How:

    1. Choose your favorite kind of beer, or the kind mostly advised by your friend.
    2. Open the bottle.  
    3. While pouring the beer into the glass, listen to the mild sound of the flowing beer and the soft noise of escaping carbonic acid.
    4. Enjoy the vesicles rising up and over the glass and building into a gorgeous foam crown.
    5. Inhale the full bouquet of the beer flavor.
    6. And now ..... take the first desired sip.
    7. Taste all beer ingredients: the grain, the hop, the water and the yeast.
    8. Feel your first impression gradually develop as the beer covers your tongue from the tip to the root.
    9. Define the unique taste of your beer with the aftertaste remaining on the tongue.
    10. You will be surprised to find a variety of different taste nuances -- all in only one beer! 


    1. Take only large AND clean glasses for beer-testing.
    2. Don't swallow immediately -- wash the beer around the tongue in order to let each part of it feel the taste.
    3. Don't worry at the sight of turbid beer: turbidity is the brand name of some beers like Wiess, Kraeusen, and others.

    All beer information courtesy of


    German Food

    German Food - Today's Changes

    A Challenge From Bratwurst To Something Else

    When somebody thinks about Germans and eating, it is mostly the masses of Sauerkraut and Bratwurst one is thinking of. Probably Eisbein, maybe Spaetzle, but all the rest? Not existing? If one thinks of going to Germany, he thinks Heidelberg, Munich and Oktoberfest. Liters or gallons of beer. Is that Germany?

    If a German thinks of America, which always equals the United States, he thinks of all the millions of hamburgers, that all Americans drive at least 3 cars, surf on the beaches and run around shooting guns trying to secure themselves of all the crime and the Bonnie and Clydes of today.

    Would you think this is correct? Would you believe that Germany is a country with a population of 80 million people, all eating sauerkraut all their lives long? No, the times have changed. Changed towards a more lighter cooking, towards lighter Grande Cuisine. There are movements towards a new revival of the regional cuisine in Germany. The Germany that is a very small country, with a lot of differences. The North is near the stormy North Sea with the Frisians, speaking a complete different language (at least some of them), and eating different things like "Labskaus," a mix of corned beef, potatoes, beet roots, herring and such, or gravied fishes; "hamburger eel soup" which doesn't contain eel at all, and so on. Or it is the Germany of the South, with Bavaria and the Alps. They eat differently: Nice crusty "Braten" and they have "Brotzeit" a late breakfast with those wonderful brown breads and "Wurst."

    But all of this is not German cooking of today. German cooking today is much more a regional-based, light kitchen style. Like Joerg Mueller in his star-awarded restaurant on the Island of Sylt, the most northern island of Germany, where he prepares "Tomato Aspic with Langostinos" or his "Mousse of Three Different Paprikas." Or from the south, the highest rated German chef, Harald Wohlfarth of the Traube Tonbach Hotel in the Black Forest, presents his "Salad of Asparagus Tips with Slices of Sweetbread" or "Rabbit in a Morels Sauce with Spinach Noodles." We also do modern German cooking in our Restaurant Lachswehr with a "Poached Filet of Beef on a Mustard Sabayone with Apple-Celery Puree" or the "Sauerkraut-soup" (here we go again, watch it -- we are Germans!).

    But all of these are just bits of German cooking today. When I think of the United States, I think of all the great German chefs that are over there doing their job successfully, but where are their roots, their knowledge of what their mothers have been cooking for them?

    Let's come back to the point. What has changed in German cooking? We still use masses of real cream, we still use tons of real butter, just the way nature gave it to us. But to that, we leave out the starchy things. Due to the knowledge that one can eat as much butter and fat as he wants and he will not put on weight unless he is having starch with his meals. Fat can't be burned by one's body unless there is the starch that helps. We eat lighter. We take more time for our meals, Germany today is not a country on welfare; even the average worker earns enough to spend at least two times a year abroad. He is entitled to 23 working holidays a year. He gets around, sees different countries and recognizes different tastes in the world of ours. So when he is back home, he wants the light, fancy style of Italian kitchens, but with the goods he knows. He wants the long lasting French meals to impress his fiancee, but in his favorite restaurant at home. So kitchen tasks are changing constantly.

    Reproduced courtesy of