Germany is one of the world's great wine producing nations, known for its striking white wines, especially its Rieslings, which are among the finest in the world. However, there are also excellent examples of several other white varieties, such as Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Sauvignon Blanc, while Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) has become an important wine for Germany, especially over the past decade.

While German wines have long been considered among the world's finest, their market share has dwindled over the past thirty or forty years, as consumers have turned to dryer white wines, and of course, powerful reds from California and France that are regularly praised by influential wine critics. Many consumers don't even consider German wines, as their image of them is that they are sweet, which is not a buzzword these days. However, the finest German wines are worthy of every wine lover's attention.

Regarding sweetness, there are more examples today of dry German Rieslings; these are labeled as trocken, while the word feinherb refers to a wine that is "almost dry." The German knew that they needed to make the world understand that they do produce dry wines, and while these wines are of premium quality, the efforts to make consumers understand this has not been that successful to date.

What makes Germany so distinctive in the world of wine is a combination of climate and geography. The vineyards, located primarily in the western reaches of the country, are beautifully situated along the slopes of local rivers, most prominently, the Rhine and the Mosel; the Saar and the Ruwer rivers, tributaries of the Mosel, are also locales for plantings. These vineyards are located between the 47th and 49th latitude, making them some of the most northerly wine regions in the world. These are moderate climates, where full ripening can be difficult in cold years. This white varieties dominate in Germany, as approximately two-thirds of German wines are white.

The fact that Germany has such a cool climate means that vineyards are planted on hillsides; this in order to capture as much of the late afternoon sun as possible. Some of the most beautiful scenes in all of viticulture are images of vineyards along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. These plantings are quite steep; in fact, some vineyards along the Mosel have a slope of 65 degrees, the most severe found anywhere in the world. This ensures excellent drainage, while the river soils, imbued with slate, add a distinct minerality to the wines.

As mentioned, Spatburgunder, especially in regions such as the Rheinhessen and Nahe, are important wines for Germany; with the finest single vineyard wines being of exceptional quality. These are deeply colored wines with intense aromas, rich spice and very good acidity; these are made to age, for perhaps as long as a decade or more. Germany has sent a clear message with these wines that their is more to German wines than white.

Today, Germany is among the top ten wine producing nations, and sales, while not what they were in the 1970s or '80s, are still quite strong. Now Germany needs to get the message across about their wine industry, especially as far as variety. The message of quality in Germany comes across loud and clear; German wines are among the finest in the world. (Wine/Appellations)
Germany is a historic brewing country known for its Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 (Reinheitsgebot).
(Beer/People and Places)