How to Drink Wine Like a German

Travelers can often be intimidated by wine, especially when they are trying to understand wine in another language. Here are some tips and information on how to understand, order, and drink wine like a German.

Wine is plentiful, tasty, and really cheap in Germany, especially compared to the USA. You can get a wonderful glass of wine in Germany for just a few €. Try the local wines in your area; you will be surprised how great they are and without the 100$ price tag. YAHOO!

Size Matters

How to drink wine like a german

In the USA, there is no pour rule, but normally you get around 5 oz, depending on how generous your bartender is. In Germany, there is a standard pour – hey, it’s Germany. Everything has a rule!

In Germany, you are given two options for a wine pour – .1 l (3.38 oz) or .2 l (6.8 oz).

Your server will ask, Wünschen sie ein, oder zwei?” They are asking if you want .1 or .2 liters.

A color for everyone:

  • You can order white wine, weißwein (veisvine)how to drink wine like a german
  • Red wine, rotwein  (rote a vine)
  • Rose wine, roséwein (rose a vine)

Taste: 

  • Süß (suss) – Sweet
  • Halb süß (hal-b suss) – Semi sweet
  • Halb-trocken – Half Dry
  • Trocken – Dry

Types:

Kabinett: This type of wine literally means wine you can keep in the cabinet. It can range from semi sweet to dry, depending on the maker, and good for a long night of drinking wine; not too sweet, and a perfect way to end the day.

Spatlese: This wine has grapes that are harvested late in the season. The word “spatlese” actually translates to “late harvest.” The wine is considered semi sweet and is often fruity. This wine is a good option for someone looking to try wine but not sure what they like.

Auslese: Meaning “select harvest”, this is a very ripe harvest and semi sweet to sweet. It can also be used as a dessert wine. Super sweet for my taste, because I can only drink one glass, but my husband loves this wine.

how to drink wine like a germanIce wine: Ice wine is one of my all-time favorite wines. The grapes have to be frozen on the vine before they are harvested. The frozen grape makes a very concentrated, sweet wine, suitable for after dinner and dessert. It is the bomb! In the USA, I used to order ice wine by the case and have it shipped to the house, and WOW is it expensive. Here in Germany, where much of the best ice wine is made, it is much less expensive to buy.

Trockenbeerenauslese: This type of wine is made from grapes that have dried on the vine. The result is a very sweet, very rich wine. 

Federweißer: This is a very young wine and bottled just after the grapes have been harvested. You can only find this wine in the fall. It is fizzy, like soda, and very sweet, like juice. The alcohol content is normally low (4%). The funny thing about this wine is that you can’t seal the bottle. Due to the ongoing fermentation process, if you seal the bottle it will explode, so the tops of the bottle are all permeated to let gas escape. If you pick one up, you have to hold the bottle upright or the wine will leak out the top of  the bottle. If you are in Germany during the fall, check it out; it’s cool, refreshing, and fruity.

Sekt: Sekt is the German form of sparkling wine. In the USA, we usually call this champagne. But, here is where we are guilty of just stealing words and using them randomly. Technically, real champagne is only from the region of Champagne in France. If it is not made in Champagne, France, it is not Champagne, it is sparkling wine. Sekt is only a few € per glass, comes in many varieties, and is just as good, if not better, than champagne. You will see it on all the restaurant menus. It is a local German favorite. The taste ranges in flavor but normally is on the semi to dry side. I love this stuff.

Weinschorle: Also called a Spritzer. This is a good way to stay “soberer”, if that’s a word. You mix your wine with bubble water – half the alcohol, and it tastes great! This is a good idea for those who are not wine drinkers but want a little taste.

How to drink wine like a germanGluhwein: It is hot, spiced wine, or mulled wine, sometimes with rum or other yummy liquor in it. It has many varieties and is most popular during the cold months. It is normally found at holiday markets and fairs. It also comes in the cutest little mugs. Each wine vendor will have their own decorated mugs. You pay a few € deposit and get the money back when you return it to the vendor; much better than plastic and too cute. You can also purchase and keep the cup – a great souvenir and useful for more drinking in the future. I love this stuff in the winter, and if you can’t make it to Germany, here is a great recipe for gluhwein –> gluhwine.

The most abundant wine in Germany is Riesling.  It actually originated in Germany and is now ranked as one of the top three most important wine varieties in the world, right with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. If you see Riesling on the menu, you can bet it’s good. Don’t forget to look for what type it is and if it is sweet or dry.

Watch for our German wine tasting post, coming soon, so we can tell you all the best German wines to drink and what they taste like.

Cheers or “prost” in German! Lastly, when cheers-ing people in Germany, you must look them in the eye while tapping glasses. If you fail to do this, you will be punished by seven years of bad sex – who knew?!

how to Drink wine like a german

If you have a favorite wine tip from Germany, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you!

This post is part of #SundayTraveler. Check out all the great travel stories at Chasing The Donkey and Fairytale Traveler.

 

 

 

 

 

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– Stacey

18 Comments

  • Reply October 1, 2014

    elsmahieuEls

    Love Riesling!!! I didn't know there were 2 measures for wine in Germany, but yes, indeed, that's what you would expect from Germany, very well organised! :-)
  • Reply September 30, 2014

    Words of a Wanderer

    WOW, I was not expecting this to be so informational! I haven't been to Germany, but I know i'll make it there soon.. and when I do… I'm definitely gonna have to refer back to this list! I love sweet wine, so I think I'd have to try the Auslese or Ice Wine. Sounds delish!
  • Reply August 26, 2014

    Pia Louise Style

    Enjoyed your article. A good refresher for me. I spent many many days, nights, years in Germany as a Flight Attendant. Brought back memories. Prost!
  • Reply August 24, 2014

    Lauren

    Wow! There are so many different types of wine to try. I would be in heaven as well! I'd love to try the Spaltese or the Ice Wine, those are two of my favorites!
  • Reply August 23, 2014

    Brianna

    When I was in Austria I tried sturm which is like the Federweißer you described. It was like wine soda, I loved it!
  • Reply August 21, 2014

    Ryan | Treksplorer

    I lived in Germany for several months and can't say I've even tried half of these! Beer on the other hand: might have tried them all :) I do recall the wine being insanely cheap in Germany compared to back home in Canada. It was shocking to be able to supplement a meal with a bottle of decent red wine for only a couple Euros! Will be sure to try a few of these when I visit again.
  • Reply August 20, 2014

    The Bohemian Diaries

    Super informative article! First of all, I didn't realize how much goes into ordering wine in Germany! And ice wine?! I NEED to try this :) Will revisit this post before heading to Germany to go over the varieties, and their names!
  • Reply August 20, 2014

    Christa Thompson

    Hello, on behalf of Christa, host of The Sunday Traveler, I was stopping by to check out your article. How useful and informative! What a great read, I loved it! Thank you.
  • What an informative post! I love wine so this might come in handy one day if I make my way to Germany ;) Although those endless rules scare me a little. I had completely forgotten about gluhwein! I know it as glögi which is the Finnish word for pretty much the same thing. Ohh, cannot wait for it to be colder so I can drink that again :)
  • Reply August 19, 2014

    2foodtrippers

    So very informative - especially the cheers-ing tip. Plus, I have to wonder about anybody who goes for the .1l pour.
  • Reply August 19, 2014

    Axelle

    Looks like you've had to do a lot of research and tasting, the hard life of traveling haha ;)
  • Reply August 19, 2014

    Sandra @ Tripper

    Yep always go for the 2 lol Nice post.
  • Reply August 19, 2014

    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer

    Great wine information. I did not even think to drink wine in Germany, only beer (haha). Great guide for my next visit!
  • Reply August 18, 2014

    Adelina | PackMeTo

    Yumm I love Riesling so I'll be a happy camper in Germany. Last time I was there I mostly drank beer, no wine. Next time next time! Gluhwein is a holiday favourite too. I like the spritzers on hot summer evenings. So refreshing.
  • Reply August 18, 2014

    Dave Cole

    These German guides are fantastic, Stacey! The "Zwei" is an excellent bit of knowledge that will help me the next time I'm in Germany. Not sure my wife would be pleased if a .1 ended up in front of her. Of the wines you listed, the Sekt sounds like a pretty good choice - sparkling and reasonably priced.
    • Reply August 19, 2014

      BasketsLife

      Hi Dave, hee hee your wife and I must be from the same cloth becasue I was not very happy the first few times it happened either - I was like What the Hell - who pours wine like that LOL - but now that I know I feel better! thank you for reading If you are around in Germany feel free to hit us up for some info, love to show you around.
  • Reply August 17, 2014

    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    Right, I feel so totally prepared now. So, where is the wine? Thanks for linking up to #SundayTraveler again x
  • Reply August 17, 2014

    Mandie

    I loved wine in Germany! I found really good wine for sooo cheap!! I was thinking it would be all about the beer there, but I was pleasantly surprised. :)

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