A Day on the Wine Road in Western Germany
I recently had the pleasure of spending a day traveling down the famous wine road in Germany, which starts north and west of Heidelberg and ends basically in Strasbourg, France, just across the border. While I have done a number of wine tasting trips in my life, this was a new region for me. Here are the top 10 things I learned during the day. Number one, the region was made famous because of the stunning riesling wines it produces.Number two, rieslings aren’t always sweet like you might be thinking but range in sweetness. The levels of sweetness also correspond to the quality pyramid: Kabinett trocken (dry), Kabinett, SpÃ¤tlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese (the most sweet and also very expensive).Number three, Germans make a fabulous sparking wine, called Sekt. It can be white or rose, and I fell in love with them. The higher quality ones are produced in the mÃ©thode champenoise (secondary fermentation in the bottle), while the cheaper ones are produced by injecting carbon dioxide into the wine to add bubbles.Number four, there is a great deal of wine history in this region of Germany, and the wine road was established in 1935 after a record harvest in 1934. Today winemaking and the tourism surrounding the wine industry drives the economy here.Number five, while the rest of Germany might be celebrating Octoberfest, this part of Germany celebrates the wine harvest at this time of year.Number six, the region is actually very upscale, with lovely restaurants like Leopold in Deidesheimer Hof.Number seven, when in Germany, you have to try the local specialties, like this classic dish of the Palatinate region that includes a liver meatball (actually really delicious and I don’t even like liver), a type of bratwurst, and a sliced sausage that includes diced potatoes in the filling. No greens on the plate you say? Didn’t you notice the chives?Number eight, if you’ve been in one old wine cellar, you’ve pretty much been there, done that. They are all cold, musty, damp, and covered in mold – which, of course, is why they make such great places for storing and aging wine.Number nine, although the region is home to world class riesling wines, they make some really great pinot noirs as well, called SpÃ¤tburgunder. I fell in love with them and if you do a bit of online research, you’ll see that the rest of the wine world is also waking up to these great wines.Number ten, tasting wines for a day is possibly more enjoyable if you spit instead of swallowing your tastes. If you drink everything you taste, there is a natural limit to what you can taste in a day, but if you taste and spit, you can enjoy the tasting just as much, and probably can sample more wines in one day. And if you just happen to be driving the van for the tour group like I was, then this really is the only way to taste anyway!