Primarily, German wines are produced in the west of the country along the Rhine and its tributary rivers, and Germany’s oldest plantations date back to the ancient Romans. Six of Germany’s 13 quality wine producing regions are in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, however, overall, Germany has approximately 252,000 acres of vineyard and produces around 1.2 billion bottles a year, ranking it 8th for world wine production. Two thirds of German wines are whites.
When wine drinking first became popular in the UK, German wines were among the first available, and achieved great popularity at the time, however as the British palate became more sophisticated, many of these popular varieties fell from favour. Germany has a fairly mixed reputation with international wine connoisseurs, with some buyers believing that German white wines are among the most aromatically pure and elegant wines in the world, while other consumers believe that country primarily produces mass market cheap semi-sweet varieties like Liebfraumilch.
Germany’s most renowned wines are made from Riesling grapes which are recognised for their elegant, fruity and aromatic flavours. Wines made from these grapes range from very dry and crisp to sweet, well-balanced aromatic whites.
Although Germany has traditionally produced white wines, during the 1990s, production of reds surged due to an increase in domestic demand, and now around a third of German vineyards grow dark skinned varieties. Spatburgunder is the local name for pinot noir, and this variety accounts for the majority of red German wine production.
The Rheingau region which features steep banks on the side of the river Rhine is perhaps the best wine producing area in Germany. Planted with Riesling and Spatburgunder grapes, the nation’s highest quality wines are made here.