Top German Wines to Try for Oktoberfest
Happy #winewednesday, Corkers!
This week, I'd be remiss not to post a blog about German wines. Why? Because despite the 2021 Oktoberfest being cancelled (again), the season for schnitzel and spätzle is upon us and there's no better time than the present to try some outstanding wines from the land of the Autobahn, bread-baking, and sausages galore.
Now first, what is Oktoberfest and why is it so popular? The short answer is...it's an all-out-beer-fest of epic proportions. Held annually in Munich, it's a 16-18 day party that draws in over six million people from around the world. It's also a cornerstone of Bavarian culture, having been held there since 1810. Cities all around the world model festivities after Oktoberfest, but none truly compare to the OG. The original. The bona fide bash during which an average of 7.7 million litres of beer are served.
But contrary to popular belief, Germany is not only known for beer. No-siree. Germany is the 8th largest wine-producing country in the world, producing approximately 1.3 billion bottles annually. Some wineoisseurs (yes, I made that word up) associate Germany with some of the world's most elegant and aromatically pure wines. So instead of reaching for that same wine bottle you've purchased a hundred times, try branching out this weekend. Head straight for the German wine section of your local wine store and try some of these awesome juices:
Riesling: Riesling is the flagship wine of Germany, representing one fifth of wine production in the country. If you've been hanging around the wine corner of Instagram for awhile, you've probably seen countless posts, articles, and reels hammering home the fact that NOT ALL RIELSING IS SWEET! Shocking, I know...but it's true! Riesling produces dry, off-dry, medium, and sweet wines and sweetness levels vary substantially across the wine regions of Germany. For example, Mosel, due to its northerly latitude, typically produces Riesling of medium sweetness to offset high acidity. Rheingau is situated on steep, south-facing slopes of the River Rhine offering drier styles with more body. Pfalz, toward the French border, is protected by mountains and a has a long, dry growing season. This typically results in wines similar to style to Alsace, France: medium bodied with high acidity.
Map taken from winefolly.com
2. Spatburgender (Pinot Noir): Spatburgunder is without-a-doubt the most popular red wine in Germany and is grown in all 13 of the country's wine regions. In fact, Germany is the 3rd largest producer of Pinot Noir and the name means late (spat) ripening (burgunder). The grape came to Germany from Burgundy and it produces velvety wines with notes of blackberries and almonds.
Image from wineanorak.com
3. Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris): A white wine variety, the skin of the grape is actually reddish-grey in color and creates a versatile wine that pairs with a slew of foods. The wines are equally as varied as the food it can be paired with, displaying notes of pear, almond, or pineapple. Expect a sleek, dry wine that is best served chilled.
4. Muller-Thurgau: This one's for all of you sweet-toothed sippers out there. A cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royale, this variety tends to ripen quite early in the growing season and features fruity, peachy notes. You can find dry styles, too. If dry wines are your jam, look for the wine under the name Rivaner. This grape also makes a delightful sparkling wine!
5. Silvaner: If not for the taste alone, give this wine a try to experience a major player in Germany's wine culture. Also known as "Dracula Wine", this beauty will not hold up to bright sunlight or heat for long. Delicate as she may be, she is full bodied, makes up approximately 7% of Germany's wine production, and will show the best when consumed young and vibrant. This grape is particularly demonstrative of its terroir revealing notes of honeydew, apricot, lemon peel, apple, hay, grass, even celery or coriander.
Here's a BONUS 6th wine for you to try (if you have a Champagne-like budget!) : Eiswein, also known as the Winemaker's Masterpiece, is a high-stakes game for vintners, if you will. The grapes stay on the vine until January or February, when temperatures reach approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It truly is a gamble because with temperatures this low, the harvest can be all or nothing. If conditions aren't perfect, the grapes will not survive. Nonetheless, 5-10% of the original harvest is bottled as Eiswein (or Ice Wine). Essentially, when the temperature drops, the water in the grapes freezes. Grapes are then laboriously (and painfully) harvested when frozen and pressed before they thaw. When the pressing occurs, the frozen ice crystals are separated from the sparse quantities of unfrozen liquid inside the fruit, which contains high amounts of acids, sugars, and flavors. The resulting wine is sweet, extremely concentrated, and (thanks to global warming), a dying breed.
Image from schiller-wine.blogspot.com
Try one of these 6 delightful German wines and let me know your thoughts. As always, follow me on Instagram @thecandidcork, and subscribe to my email list here so you can be the first to know about new blog posts, giveaways, recipes, and more.
Thanks for joining me for this edition of Wine Wednesday and for being a loyal member of the Corker Community. Enjoy Oktoberfest and happy sipping!
Until next time-