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Beyond Beer:  Discover German Wines
Eve Carr and Millard Carr

Pick up an icy, cold mug of German beer, raise it up to the light so you can admire its golden or amber color and -- if you're in Germany - it's generous head.

Then raise the mug to your nose and smell its hearty, yeasty aroma. Now, at last, let this liquid gold roll across your tongue and into your mouth. It's cold, refreshing, and flavorful.

But beer is only one of the beverages of Germany. Its wines are winners too. But sometimes travelers never get beyond beer because they have heard that it's necessary to be a snobby expert to appreciate wine.

Not so. You just need to know what you like. For that's the true key to wine appreciation: discovering what your taste buds like, as well as being willing to taste new wines to let your tastes change and grow. 

To enjoy a glass of wine, you follow a similar procedure for appreciating beer.

Hold your glass by the stem (so you don't warm the wine), and raise it to the light so you can see the wine's color and clarity.

Then swirl the wine slightly to release its aromas.

Now sniff the wine because this really influences what you taste. Talk about giving your taste buds a workout! Flavors can range from apples and berries to spring flowers.

At last, take a sip, distributing the liquid through your mouth, to see how many different flavors you can taste.

Focus on the Regions

It would be fun to taste wines from each of Germany's wine growing regions, especially since many of these wines are consumed locally and are not available elsewhere. Most of Germany's 13 wine growing regions are in the southwestern part of the country, and are invariably near a river such as the Rhine, which helps to maintain a constant temperature. Wines in each of these regions will be similar in taste from those grown elsewhere.

In general, the northern regions produce wines that are light, fruity, and fragrant, while the southern regions produce wines with more body, fuller fruitiness and, in many cases, a powerful flavor. Since Germany is situated so far north, about 80 percent of its vineyards are planted with white grapes, with only 20 percent in red grape varieties.

Learning about German wine can be fun:

Check out books on German wine at the base library or purchase one to keep with you.

Order wines by the glass so you can taste a greater variety.

Keep a wine journal (especially helpful if you can include the label) to help you remember what you've tried, what you like and what you don't particularly care for.

Try new wines. Your taste buds will change over the years. Most people start out enjoying the sweeter wines and, gradually, work their way up to the dryer ones.

Whatever wine you drink, remember moderation and a designated driver are critical. Germans are vigilant about protecting their citizens against irresponsible drivers.

German wine labels are filled with information to let you know what's inside. Some information is mandated by law and other is voluntary.

Appellation of Origin or Wine Growing Region - One of the 13 German wine growing regions such as: Ahr, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Franken, Hessische Bergstrasse, Württemberg, Baden, Saale/Unstrut, Sachsen. (Rheinhessen

Vintage - The year the grapes were harvested, and critical in determining quality of wine. (1991)

Village/Vineyard - The village where the vineyard is located (usually with an er suffix). (Winzerdorf Rebberg) 

Grape Variety - This is the single most influential factor determining a wine's taste. Different grapes have different flavors. For example: Riesling is a very fruit-driven grape variety providing a fine acidity, while Gewürztraminer has very floral, perfumed flavors reminiscent of rose petals. (Riesling)

Degree of Dryness - The taste/style or degree of dryness of a wine depends on the cellar master and is totally independent of the grape. These range from trocken (dry); halftrocken (semi-dry) and lieblich (sweet.) (Halbtrocken)

Ripeness Category - The ripeness categories are Tafelwein (tablewine), Qualitätswein, and Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. The latter is further divided into the ripeness levels such as Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauselese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. (Qualitätswein)

AP Number - The "official approval number" so official testing centers can identify a wine if there is any complaint or doubt of authenticity. (51698792)

Producer/Bottler - The name of producer or estate. (Winzer Bacchus.)

For more article on German wines, visit http://www.germanwineusa.org

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Freelance writers Eve and Millard Carr of Great Falls, Virginia, specialize in writing about unique honeymoon destinations. They can be reached by at: carrcomm@erols.com and http://www.travelwriters.com/evecarr


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