8 German Wines to Try, Based on Your Tried-and-True Favorites
Wine menus and liquor stores can be intimidating—so many labels and regions and names, so little time. When the cute waiter comes over and puts you on the spot, you often go with what you know: “Pinot Grigio, please?” But instead of staying in your lane, why not try something new? A varietal from a region you've been wanting to explore, perhaps?
Your trip to Europe might be canceled this year, but you can still enjoy the continent’s iconic wines, including somm favorites from Germany, where the wines are known for their trademark crispness. We tapped three wine experts to find out which types of German wine you should try out this summer, based on your go-to favorites. Who knows, you may just find out you’re a Silvaner lover (and impress your friends in the process).
1. If You Like Prosecco, Try Sekt
Fun fact: Sekt is the name for sparkling wine in Germany. “German Sekt is Prosecco with more personality,” affirms Amy Waller, former Wine Director at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis. “Usually made from Riesling grapes, Sekt is dry, zippy and often more complex than the Italian sparkler. It’s a brilliant start to your meal and versatile pairing option.” And since sparkling wine is lower in alcohol than other wines, a German Sekt is perfect for afternoon sipping on a warm summer day.
2. If You Like Sauvignon Blanc, Try Silvaner
If the earthy, herbal notes and high acidity of Sauv Blanc draw you in, why not try a comparable bottle of Silvaner, which boasts even earthier tones? “If you’re into New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll love Silvaner,” suggests Waller. “A crisp white wine, it’s my favorite German wine to pair with summer vegetables, hard cheeses and fish.”
3. If You Like Chenin Blanc, Try Riesling
“If you're someone that likes the weight and acid of Chenin Blanc, look to the Pfalz for Riesling,” says Brent Kroll, Proprietor and Sommelier at Maxwell Park in Washington, D.C. “These wines are generally dry and have more weight than other parts of Germany. Chenin can often have more funk to it, so a German Riesling would be super approachable for a get together with friends and is great with dishes that have a little bit of heat or spice.”
4. If You Like Chardonnay, Try Weissburgunder
The flavors of your go-to glass of Chardonnay get a slightly lighter, more delicate upgrade with a glass of a German Pinot Blanc. “Chardonnay is a moldable grape variety, meaning winemaking is a huge part of its resulting style,” says Wendy Stanford, senior wine buyer at Wine.com. “Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) is similarly straightforward, showing notes of pear and citrus and pleasant acidity. Like Chardonnay, it can be light and refreshing or oak-aged for a richer style. German Pinot Blanc is an excellent and very versatile food wine!”
5. If You Like Pinot Grigio, Try Grauburgunder
“Pinot Grigio can be a bit monotone with hints of apple and bitterness,” Kroll admits, and we hate to agree (even though it’s one of our personal faves). “While still the same grape, Pinot Gris from Germany, where it’s called Grauburgunder, takes on more body and a silky texture that's great with food and has more weight to it. Typically there's more complexity ranging from florality to olive oil/beeswax notes.”
6. IF YOU LIKE PROVENCE ROSÉ, TRY A GERMAN ROSÉ
Rosé is unmatched when it comes to dining alfresco in summertime. But when you’re a little sick of the same pink bottle over and over again, a glass of German Rosé will be there waiting. “Provence Rosé is crisp and mineral driven but doesn't quite have the range in style as German Rosé,” mentions Kroll. "For this reason, Provence Rosé is typically consumed on its own, while German Rosé is as mineral-driven as it is juicy and is perfect for food. Pair it with anything from grilled vegetables to pâté. Many of the top German producers make Rosé too, so you don't have to worry about drinking the same predictable bottle of rosé week after week."
7. If You Like Gamay/Beaujolais, Try Spätburgunder
“Gamay is a light to medium body wine from Beaujolais known for its floral and spice notes, and fans of this variety would easily fall in love with German Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder),” explains Stanford. “German Pinot tends to be lighter and less tannic than those from warmer parts of the world, making for a very food friendly wine, even with fish or other foods not often associated with red wine. It is also great to enjoy on its own a tad chilled.”
8. If You Like Cabernet Sauvignon, Try Lemberger
“Fans of robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon might not know that Germany produces a similar style in Lemberger,” says Stanford. Lemberger (which also goes by the name Blaufrankisch) trades the oak in Cab for lighter, more floral, and herbal notes. “It can be made in both lighter styles and riper, more extracted styles. It has a deep color and structure, along with crisp acidity for balance. An excellent wine to have with burgers on the grill!”
Learn more about which German wines you should try next (and even order a bottle for delivery or pick up) by visiting Wines of Germany.