The ancient Romans began cultivating grapes in Germany when they conquered the area in about 100 B.C. The monks of the Middle Ages were also German winemakers, and their tradition of excellent winemaking continues to the present day. Germany is well known for producing exceedingly light, delicate white wines.

White Wines of Germany

The white wine grapes of Germany comprise approximately 81 percent of the total grapes planted. The white wines of Germany include:

  • Bacchus
  • Chardonnay
  • Elbling
  • Faberrebe
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Grauer Burgunder
  • Gutedel
  • Huxelrebe
  • Kerner
  • Morio-Muskat
  • Muller-Thurgau
  • Ortega
  • Riesling
  • Rulander/Grauburgunder
  • Scheurebe
  • Silvaner.

Red Wines of Germany

Only 19 percent of the total grapes planted in the wine regions of Germany are red wine grapes. This is contrary to the rest of the world, where red wine grapes outnumber white wine grapes.

The red wines in Germany include:

  • Domina
  • Dornfelder
  • Dunkelfelder
  • Heroldrebe
  • Lemberger
  • Portugieser
  • Schwarzriesling
  • Spatburgunder
  • Trollinger.

Most of the red wines in Germany are for local consumption. Few of them are exported to other areas.

Identifying German Wine

If the word “Deutsch” is missing from the wine label, then the wine is not a German wine. Wines without this word may have been blended with German wines or bottled in Germany, but the grapes were not grown in Germany.

In the case of buying German wine in Germany, a good bottle will specify the region in which the grapes were grown in.

Wine Regions in Germany

The wine regions of Germany are located in the southwestern part of the country. Most of the German vineyards are located on steep slopes instead of in valleys and most are in close proximity to a river to add humidity and help keep the climate even and temperate.

While many geographical factors influence the individual vineyards and, therefore, the taste of the grapes, the wine regions in Germany continue to offer the world some of the most sought-after wines.

The wine regions in Germany include:

  • Ahr
  • Baden
  • Franken
  • Hessisiche Bergstrasse
  • Mittelrhein
  • Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
  • Nahe
  • Pfalz
  • Sachen
  • Saale-Unstrut
  • Rheingau
  • Rheinhessen
  • Wurttemburg.

The grapes in Germany are harvested in October and November, due to the moderate climate, which allows the ripening process to continue for longer than in other wine regions. However, the Germans practice selective harvesting, which means they harvest grapes at different stages of ripeness. This harvesting practice plays into the quality of the wine and should be taken into consideration when purchasing German wines.

The ripeness of the grapes in the wine is indicated by one of two categories:

  • Tafelwein: Tafelwein (“table wine” in English) means that the wine was made from normally ripe grapes. These wines are considered to be perfect for everyday enjoyment. This category is broken down into two further categories: simple table wines and special table wines, which are produced from grapes that are a bit riper than those used for simple table wines.
  • Qualitatswein: Qualitatswein (“quality wine” in English) is wine that is made from ripe, very ripe or even overly ripe grapes. This category contains most of the German wines, and this is where the finest wines are placed. Grapes in these wines have ripened to the point where the wine is sure to have the style and flavor of the specific region in which the grapes were grown.