It may be more well known for its beer, but Germany does some damn good wines.
I managed to try a few on a trip to Karlsruhe, the 300 year-old planned city that rumour has it partly inspired the design of Washington in the USA (check the fan-like layout).
And just like its excellent public transportation system, acres of green space, and selection of herbal teas, the wines on offer there were impressive. Though unfortunately none of them came from the 220,000 litre wine barrel / dance floor housed in the cellars of nearby Heidelberg Castle.
The reds were fruity and interesting, but it was the Riesling that shone. A German speciality that has risen in popularity in recent years, it is a versatile variety producing everything from dry wines (“trocken”) to intensely sweet ones (try a – deep breath – “Trockenbeerenauslese”) made from shrivelled dried grapes.
I got a couple to take home, and wish I’d shelled out for the full size version of this 25cl bottle. From local (to Karlsruhe) producer Baden-Badener, I don’t know much about it other than it’s from 2008 and has been given Germany’s quality wine classification “Qualitatswein”.
It’s delicious: manging to be both full of flavour and nuance but without any cloying sweetness or over-the-top theatrics. I’d say it’s off-dry, and has a little of that Riesling sweetness, but this doesn’t outstay its welcome and moves off the tongue just as soon as you’ve finished savouring the glorious mix of ripe fruit and tongue tingling acidity. There’s a hint of honey and sultanas, as well as rich pear and apple tones.
It went fine with a spiced rice dish, but was neither dry enough or sweet enough to take on a chunk of chocolate. To be honest it doesn’t need food at all, and has a rich luxury better savoured alone – closed eyes optional.
If you’re fed up of the Sauvignon Blanc citrus tang then look no further.