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!
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)
- Red wine, rotwein (rote a vine)
- Rose wine, roséwein (rose a vine)
- Süß (suss) – Sweet
- Halb süß (hal-b suss) – Semi sweet
- Halb-trocken – Half Dry
- Trocken – Dry
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.
Ice 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.
Gluhwein: 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?!
If you have a favorite wine tip from Germany, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you!