A Common Misconception about German Wines

Travis Glohs, our beer guru and fellow wine lover, just returned from his trip to Germany armed with a ton of new ideas about one of the world’s greatest beer and wine producing nations. The following are his musings on an incredibly underrepresented section of the domestic marketplace: dry Riesling.

I recently taught a class on German wines and the first question I asked my students was “How many people here assume that German wines are sweet”? Instantly more then half of the class raised their hands, silently echoing a common misconception of consumers in the United States. Historically, Germany has produced wines that were both dry and sweet. Records show that sweet German wines would frequently fetch the highest prices at auction houses in England in the 1800’s. These extremely high prices led to Germany gaining a world wide reputation for their expensive sweet wines. After World War II the German’s began producing mass quantities of sweet wine to export to the American G.I.s who had acquired a taste for the stuff at the end of the conflict.  The misconception was well solidified by the 1970s and 1980s as the cheap (and terrible) Blue Nun flooded the marketplace (this was made not from Riesling but from the much inferior Muller Thurgau).

Despite this early success, sweet wines fell out of fashion and dry wines became en vogue. In response to this shift in consumer preferences a lot of small, quality conscience producers in Germany began producing drier styles of wine, especially from the Riesling grape . I  just returned from a trip to Germany and the majority of the wines that we drank were dry Rieslings. At most of the wineries that I visited the Trocken wines were consistently the first wines to sell out. Refreshing with racy acidity, bright fruit and a clean finish, trocken Rieslings are great wines for the spring and summer. Not only are these wines refreshing they are also some of the most versatile whites in regards to food pairing. They preform beautifully with Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and a plethora of other fare. So next time you are walking past the Riesling section, don’t write off all the wines as being too sweet. Try a Trocken example and open you eyes to the wide range of wines available on the market.

Travis Glohs

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