The Wines of Germany 101

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Modern History
The German wine industry has undergone a remarkable renaissance since the end of World War Two. Rising from the ashes of that devastating conflict, the German wine industry has rebuilt itself several times since. The first incarnation peaked in the mid 1970s when Liebfraumilch, Blue Nun and Black Tower were notable commercial successes. These wines, originally modest but attractive, gently sweet wine typical of what was consumed domestically, soon fell victim to their own popularity as they became debased with lower quality wines, turning into the rather insipid examples of German wine that many are familiar with.
It took roughly another two decades for the Germans to repair the damage these brands had done to their sweet wines. By the mid 1990s Germany was once being recognized for their remarkable wines, Rieslings in particular and the medium sweet ones at that. Global warming, which has robbed many of these wines of their delicacy, and a changing domestic palate that began to favor drier wines served as the impetus for the last significant change to the German wine scene: the rise of the dry wines and their accompanying classification schemes.
One other development worth noting is the very strong growth of organic and biodynamic farming within Germany. While these methods may be practised by a relatively small percentage of producers, it is a larger percentage than in many other wine producing regions, and these producers are often noteworthy and serving as inspiration for many others in the wine industry.

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  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 833

    Nice article there GDP. What is amazing about Germany is that there are so many producers and so many great wines. Unknown producers (to US consumers) can make as great a wine as the famous producers. Exploring the wine country to find these gems is a real thrill. Finding a great wine outside of the classic Mosel and Rheingau areas is quite common and rewarding. There have been some great wines produced from the co-ops (Winzergenossenschaft & Winzerverein) as well. My favorite German producer? Frank Schiffmann, Brauneberg. But there are about 20 others that would be a close second.

    Nov 18, 2013 at 4:59 PM

  • Seems a little strange that you didn't list Frits Ritter, since their kabinet is one of the top selling German wines in the US, Also, Vereinigte Hospitien is one of the oldest, and in my opinion finest, vineyards in Germany. Their Scharzhofberger Auslese is, again in my opinion, in a class of it's own and easily the equal of any of the producers you have listed.

    Nov 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Zuiko, Thank you for the kind words. There are indeed many great producers in Germany, far too many to list in such a short overview.

    American Storm, Perhaps in my follow up articles on Germany 201 we'll dive deeper and cover some of the producers I've missed on this first pass.

    Nov 18, 2013 at 6:24 PM

  • The Pinot Noir wines from the Ahr valley are generally from the Fruhburgunder rather than the Spatburgunder. This is an earlier ripening version more suited to the cooler climate.

    Stephen Freeland

    Nov 22, 2013 at 5:23 AM

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