Reds

German Red wine has always been hard to produce in the German climate, and in the past was usually light-colored, closer to rosé or the red wines of Alsace. However recently there has been greatly increased demand and darker, richer red wines (often barrique-aged) are produced from grapes such as Dornfelder and Spätburgunder, the German name for...

German Red wine has always been hard to produce in the German climate, and in the past was usually light-colored, closer to rosé or the red wines of Alsace. However recently there has been greatly increased demand and darker, richer red wines (often barrique-aged) are produced from grapes such as Dornfelder and Spätburgunder, the German name for Pinot noir.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of German wines is the high level of acidity in them, caused both by the lesser ripeness in a northerly climate and by the selection of grapes such as Riesling, which retain acidity even at high ripeness levels.

Because of the northerly climate, there has been a search for suitable grape varieties (particularly frost resistant and early harvesting ones), and many crosses have been developed, such as Müller-Thurgau in the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute. The wines are all produced around rivers, mainly the Rhine and its tributaries, often sheltered by mountains.

The rivers have significant microclimate effects to moderate the temperature. The soil is slate in the steep valleys, to absorb the sun's heat and retain it overnight. On the rolling hills the soil is lime and clay dominated. The great sites are often extremely steep so they catch the most sunlight, but they are difficult to harvest mechanically. The slopes are also positioned facing the south or south-west to angle towards the sun.

The vineyards are extremely small compared to new world vineyards and wine making is dominated by caft rather than industry wines. This makes the lists of wines produced long and complex, and many wines hard to obtain as production is so limited.

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