True or Pfalz, er False, Germany only makes sweet Rieslings?
True or Pfalz, er False (Sheesh), the only grape varietal that Germany uses, sweet or not, is Riesling?
Here's a small list of other varietals besides Riesling that are produced in Germany:
Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc)
Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris)
...and that's the short list. There are a plethora of more!
And then of course they also have the same old boring stuff (we kid, we kid) we're all used to: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
Now, we know what you're thinking. If Germany has so many varietals to choose from, then why have I been under the misconception that only sweeties made of Riesling come from there? The simple answer is: Marketing, Supply and Demand. In the 1960's, German winemakers began experimenting with sweeter styles of Rieslings made with the intent for the international market; the United States specifically. The U.S. has always been Germany's dominant country for their wine exports. These sweet Rieslings they were playing with became a hit in our country, and so, despite numerous other varietals and kinds of wine and despite the absolutely incredible range and potential from sweet (and different sweetness levels) to bone dry (don't get us started) that Riesling actually has and can achieve, pretty much only the syrupy sweet sort dominated the American palate for decades.
So without further ado, we're going to play around with some of those other varietals that Germany has to offer and hopefully introduce you to some new friends!
Ok fine. Yes, we are tasting a Riesling. We need a baseline and have to ease into things after all. But will it be one of those syrupy sweet Rieslings? Pfalz, er, no. But neither will it be bone dry. We're going to meet it somewhere around the middle, but closer to the dry side. And in the plus column, the Riesling we're going to enjoy comes from one of Germany's best producers, Dr. Loosen.
Before that happens however, we're going to have a Müller-Thurgau sandwhich. Once nearly extinct, then rediscovered, and now beloved once again, Müller-Thurgau is light and effervescent. Due to its "sparkling" nature, we'll start off here. But we're also going to revisit this wine at the end and make a cocktail out of it. The Müller we'll be enjoying is from Fritz Muller and this Trocken (dry) style makes a fantastic Spritz. So someone bring the Aperol! (Ok, we all know that Justin is going to.) So we'll begin with some dry Fritz wine and conclude with a Fritz Spritz; hence a Müller-Thurgau sandwhich!
Speaking of Justin, here he is with a quick story to tell about our next wine.
Hi All! Justin here. I just wanted to interject quick and tell a brief story. The weekend I passed my Somm Certification, a couple of Master Sommeliers who were executing our test were having a drink in my restaurant. I sidled up to their table to say hello and see what they were drinking. What they were enjoying was a Sylvaner. Sylvaner (or Silvaner) is nearly always inexpensive, is akin to Riesling and does exceedingly well in those Mid-European countries. One of the Masters offered me a taste, which obviously I accepted. After that, he told me something that I'd never forget. He said, "Anytime you see Sylvaner on a wine list, get it." I've since seen it on a wine list of a restaurant only a select couple of times, but when I did, I took his advice. Further, because of his words, I brought a Syvaner into the Shop well over a year ago. It was the Crustaces Sylvaner by Dopff & Irion; you know the one, it's got the crab and lobster on the label. And I say you know the one with confidence, because most of you do know it. And like it! Truth be told, I only brought it in based on my personal experience and wanted to have it on hand for my nostalgia and the occasional wine geek. I expected to maybe buy a case and I'd sell a bottle here or there over the course of a few years. But that's not what happened at all. Since bringing it on board, we probably sell about a case a week! It's easily one of the best sellers in the Shop! My mind is blown and I can't thank you all enough for getting behind it! It helps that it goes ridiculously well with Lowcountry cuisine, but still I appreciate it more than you know. Anyway, we won't be having the Dopff & Irion, as it's from Alsace, France, and this is a German Tasting. We'll be enjoying the Dr. Heyden Silvaner and we'll see if it can give the Crustaces a run for its money! Thanks again!
We're back. Ok, so if any of you have seen Justin work (ie write) you know he's always going for his thesaurus app or dictionary app because he can't spell worth a damn. We're sure you noticed in his diatribe above that he spelled Sylvaner and Silvaner, with a Y and an I, but in this instance he isn't wrong. Both spellings are actually correct.
Our fourth wine is a Red. Are you ready for this?!? It's a Dornfelder. But! This is where things get wild. Dornfelder was created in 1955 at the grape breeding institute in Weinsberg by head grape breeder and Agriculturist August Herold. A dark-skinned grape, Dornfelder is used primarily to make sweet, dessert wines. (See the But! above). But! But as we said earlier, we're not going a sweet route with this Tasting. The Dornfelder we'll be enjoying is dry and meant as a table wine to be enjoyed alongside dinner.
Germany: so much more than luxury cars, beerfests and sausage! Now you can add some great wine to that list. Come by and see us on Wednesday the 13th, have some wine, have a wine-based cocktail, and most importantly, if you ever see a Sylvaner on a wine list, do yourself a favor and go ahead and order it.
See you there,
The Wine Shop Team