The Rhine Valley and Germany’s Wine. Rheintal Deutschland Wein.
Did you know that European wine is commonly referred to by geographical region as well as by varietal? France has Beaujolais and Champagne, Italy has Chianti, and Germany has the Rhine Valley (Rheintal) as its very own famous wine region. Germany (Deutschland) is best known for its aromatic white wines and sweet dessert wines (and much less so for its red wines, due to the cool climate). Summer wine-tasting (weinprobe) in Germany is a unique and enjoyable activity for grape-loving visitors!
If you’re planning a trip through Germany and looking for an escape into the German countryside, whether as a special wine-tasting trip, a break from frantic city sightseeing, or as a romantic weekend away in nature, look no further than the Rhine Valley! Peaceful, quiet, and famous for its beautiful stretches of lush nature and quaint medieval towns, the valley is the perfect getaway destination.
Visiting the Rhine Valley is like going back in time, with its walled towns, ruined castles, and cobbled streets. The traditional half-timbered architecture and natural beauty are a feast for the eyes, and the pace of daily life is laid-back enough to relax and recharge.
Germany’s Romantic Rhine Valley
The majestic “Father Rhine” winds its way through Western Germany, passing green vineyard-clad hills, tiny castles, and gorgeous little towns. The Rhine Valley is Germany’s most famous wine region, and the home of Riesling and Eiswein. A visit for a summer vacation is an absolute must for any Euro-tripping wine-lover, and it’s a lovely getaway for nature lovers and keen travellers alike.
You can explore the river from north to south, starting in Koblenz and stopping off in Boppard, Sankt Goar, Bacharach, and ending in Mainz. The most scenic way to enjoy the Rhine Valley is on one of the regular river cruises that stop off at various towns along the way. You could also take the train, or hire a car and drive yourself at your leisure. There are many hostels, traditional inns, and elegant hotels to stay in, as well as restaurants that offer typical German cuisine and local wines.
High tourist season is between late spring and early autumn, although the weather is always quite changeable. In general, you can expect lazy, warm summer days. There is occasional cloud cover, and a few showers until the temperature drops drastically in late autumn. Be sure to pack layers, and a good windbreaker jacket along with your summer dresses and sun hats!
Vineyards and Wineries on the Rhine
Part of the picturesque beauty of the Rhine Valley are the steep, terraced vineyards that cover the hills in a patchwork of greens. Old, family-owned wineries and vineyards continue to produce wines from vines that were originally planted by the ancient Romans and Charlemagne. The Rhine connects little wine-loving towns likes beads on a string, and visitors can enjoy the full impact of the beauty of the valley with a leisurely cruise from town to town. Walking up the hills and among the vineyards is also a popular summer activity.
Top 3 Wine-Tasting Towns on the Rhine
• Boppard – Once a river-side Roman fort, Boppard is now a lovely wine-producing town
nestled against the hills of the Rhine valley. Visit Bopparder Hamm, the winery with the
largest vineyard on the Middle Rhine, during the Wine Festival (end of September to the
beginning of October) to experience some of their excellent wines.
• St. Goar – One of the smallest towns on the Rhine, St. Goar is quaint and yet still a
notable wine producer. Stefan’s Wine Paradise is the best place to go for hospitality,
tastings of wine and liqueur, and purchasing Rhine Valley wine to take home.
• Bacharach – This stunningly beautiful town is a delight to explore, with its vine-adorned
and painted medieval buildings, the castle perched atop the hill, and an evocative
ruined chapel that has stunning views over the town and the valley.
Popular German Wines – Riesling & Spätburgunder
Germany is best known for its white wines, as white grape varietals thrive in the cool climate.
Riesling is Germany’s signature wine – fragrant, fruity, acidic, and pale golden in hue – and it is made in dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling varieties. If you are a wine-lover, no visit to
Germany is complete without tasting a genuine Riesling.
Spätburgunder, or Pinot Noir (“Late Burgundian”), is one of the most popular grape varietals cultivated in Germany. Spätburgunder Rosé is a wonderful German blanc de noir that is perfect
for summer. Weingut Dr. Kauer, a small winery in Bacharach, makes a fantastic Spätburgunder Rosé called “TORNADO” – named after the extreme weather that destroyed much of the 2005
harvest, resulting in a small but very special harvest suitable for making a Weißherbst (rosé).
TORNADO was so popular that it has become a firm favourite produced by Weingut Dr. Kauer.
Eiswein – Sweet, Syrupy German Dessert Wine
Eiswein, or “ice wine”, is a special white dessert wine that is made from grapes harvested whilst still frozen. Making Eiswein is a precarious art, as the grapes need to be harvested at precisely
the right time – leave them too late, and rot might set in and destroy the crop. Freezing cold, pre-dawn harvests on steep, terraced vineyards are part of the fascinating Eiswein production
ritual. The frozen grapes retain sugars whilst the water freezes, which means that a sweet and highly concentrated wine can be made from them. The Eiswein yield is generally small, and so
bottles of Eiswein can be pricey. It is well worth tasting Eiswein at a winery or as a dessert treat when eating out at a traditional German restaurant.
German Wine Terms – A Cheat Sheet
• Trocken – dry
• Halb-trocken – “half dry”, or semi-sweet
• Feinherb – off-dry (similar to halb-trocken)
• Lieblich – sweet
• Suß – very sweet
• Fruchtig – fruity
• Kabinett – a light style of Riesling ranging from dry to off-dry
• Spätlese – “late harvest”, slightly sweet
• Auslese – “select harvest”, a late harvest where the grapes have noble rot. Quite sweet.
There is much to discover and learn about German wines on a trip to Germany’s Rhine Valley, as well as plenty of sightseeing and relaxation to be had.