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German Reds: There’s More to German Wine than Riesling

A high quality German Riesling is a wonderful thing but many people leave their sampling of German wine there. If you haven’t explored what Germany has to offer, then you are really missing out and their reds in particular should not be ignored. Choosing to buy German red wine online gives you the chance to look into what’s available properly and gain a better understanding of the grape varietals and popular reds from the country. Here we’re looking at the main red grapes grown in Germany.

Spätburgunder

Spätburgunder or Pinot Noir is a common worldwide red grape but it is very popular in Germany. Germany is known for having one of the best microclimates for this notoriously difficult to grow grape and Germany is in fact the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir wines, such as our Knipser Kalkmergel.

Since German wine has grown in popularity so has the quality of their Spätburgunder has improved. Some of the German Pinot Noirs now compete against the top names on the market and the process of ageing of many of the German wines, using traditional French oak barrels, they have a velvety and smooth texture. What’s more, German Pinots come with a great price tag.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is probably the best-known German red grape varietal, although it had a less than positive reputation for many years. It is only produced on a relatively small scale in Germany and it is a highly adaptable grape which makes it easy to make all kinds of wine from the driest to the sweetest dessert wines. It has a signature floral note in its flavour which immediately tells you you’re drinking Gewürztraminer.

The grape is produced in low yields in Germany so this does mean all the different diverse flavours it can produce are not always all on display. Usually you’ll find Gewürztraminer used in sweeter German wines.

Dornfelder

Dornfelder is one of the less common dark-skinned red grapes grown in Germany. German red wines are known for their pale and light character so the Dornfelder adds a new dimension. It was created at the grape breeding institute in the Württemberg region in 1955. It is easier to grow than other red grapes in Germany, even easier than Pinot Noir and it has a velvety texture that you would expect from a good red grape and fresh berry flavours, as well as a hint of stone fruit.

German wine is much more than the occasional glass of Riesling and once you begin to explore, you will see there are endless possibilities.

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On the grapevine: Müller-Thurgau

Müller-Thurgau is a vine which we know less about than we should, considering it makes up a considerable percentage of all the vines grown in Germany. It is a white grape variety which was created in the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882 by Hermann Müller. It is mainly used to make wines in Germany and Austria but it is also found in other regions including Japan, Slovakia and New Zealand. The grape was first created by crossing Riesling with Madeleine Royal.

It is one of the leading grapes planted in Germany, it has a reputation which has been less than positive in the past but in the present day Müller-Thurgau wines are crisp, easy to drink and very popular in Continental Europe and beyond.

Müller-Thurgau has had a leading role in the German wine industry since the 1980s and into the 1990s and it was only in the 2000s when a real boom in Riesling happened and Müller-Thurgau’s popularity lessened slightly. The versatility that the grape offers makes it particularly popular and it is enjoyed by people of all tastes and particularly liked by wine novices.

It is a grape which grows relatively easily and it provides consistently high yields which further boosts it popularity and with a little focus from some wineries, it has become a more enjoyable wine and not simply one which can be mass produced. It is a wine best enjoyed in its youth, as quickly as possible and it has a light and refreshing flavour which has made it more popular and enjoyed beyond the borders of Germany more frequently.

As well as producing singular Müller-Thurgau wines the grape is often combined with others to create interesting and vibrant offerings such as the Tomas Cusine, Auzells, 2014 in our collection which combines the grape with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo for a fruity fresh and fragrant end product.

Though this is a grape which has often found itself in the shadow of Riesling and other similar varietals, it is certainly worth sampling.