German wine has changed and improved dramatically in the last 30 years. German wine makers have moved away from producing bland, cheap wine to producing some of the best wines, especially white, mainly using Riesling, Gemany main grape.
But Germany is now more than white wine, due to climate change and warmer summers, red grapes such a Pinot Noir, known here as Spätburgunder, but also Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon can fully ripe, unthinkable before, and the production increases year by year. Nowadays, Germany wineries are represented by small, family owned wineries that have managed to give German wines prestige and quality.
The wine regions in Germany are classified according to the quality of wine produced and are 13, with most of them located in the western part of the country. Amongst the wine regions, Mosel is the third largest in terms of production but possibly the leading region in terms of prestige and it is mainly associated with Riesling.
When you think about Germany everything speaks Riesling, one of the oldest producers with arguably the best and long-lived fine white wines in the world. The wine culture of the country is over two thousand years old, and archaeological found proof that a Greek wine bottle made of clay from around 400 BC was discovered in a Celtic grave. The oldest vineyards were on the banks of the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, where today is the Kingdom of the Riesling.
The German wine-growing regions are some of the most northerly situated in the world, and the wines are all born around rivers, mainly the Rhine and Mosel, often protected by mountains. The rivers have important microclimate effects which are moderating the temperature of the vineyards. The soil is composed of slate in the steep valleys to absorb the sun's heat and hold it over the night. The best vineyards and parcels are often extremely steep, so they can receive the most sunlight and of course, they are difficult to harvest mechanically. The slopes are often also positioned facing the south or south-west to point towards the sun. The most significant wine regions are - Mosel, Rheingau, Ahr, Württemberg, Pfalz, Baden, Nahe, Franken and Rheinhessen.
The Germans have a little complicated classification system for the normal consumer, which they try to simplify over the past 30 years. The first category is called Tafelwein (table wine), the second is Landwein (country wine), the third is Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) wines from a defined appellation, which can be blended from several regions and still be classified as Qualitätswein(quality wine) and the best category is Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) wines that are made from grapes of higher ripeness. And there are sub-categories within which are called Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.
There are around 140 permitted grape varieties, but just half dozen of them are important for the modern wine production with significant fame is the Riesling, documented first in 1435 in Rheingau region and later found in Mosel and considered as a superior grape in the whole Germany. The Spätburgunder is the second grape variety with great importance for the country, which is the name for Pinot Noir in German. Other notable grapes are the Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Pinot Gris known as Grauburgunder, Pinot Blanc known as Weissburgunder, Sylvaner and from the international Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The German wine industry had a bad reputation up to 1960s, because of mass production of dull and too sweet wines, since 1970 has begun to gain its glory. Today they are small quality winemakers which create very special dry and sweet wines, promoting the countries long-standing traditions as one of the best white wine producers in the world.