Germany’s red wines are made from a variety of grapes, the most notable of which is Spätburgunder, which we know as Pinot Noir. Spätburgunder is the most widely planted red grape variety in Germany, and is famous for producing elegant, nuanced wines with moderate tannins and acidity. Other red grapes grown in Germany include Dornfelder, Frühburgunder, and Blaufränkisch. German red wines tend to be lighter in body and alcohol compared to red wines from other regions, and are often best enjoyed young. They can be paired with a variety of foods, including roasted meats, game, and rich cheeses.
What are the Red Wine Varieties of Germany?
Spätburgunder is the king of German red wines. These wines are appreciated for their elegance, complexity and nuanced flavors. They tend to be lighter in body and alcohol content compared to Pinot Noir wines from other regions such as Burgundy, California or New Zealand. German Spätburgunder wines often have a distinctive minerality and a bright acidity that gives them a refreshing character. They typically exhibit a wide range of aromas and flavors, including red and dark berry fruit, such as cherries and raspberries, as well as earthy and spicy notes.
When ordering from your favorite wine store Santa Rosa, you may wish to compare Pinot Noirs. This is a great way to learn German red wine’s distinct characteristics. In comparison, Burgundy Pinot Noir wines tend to be more full-bodied and rich, with a higher alcohol content and more prominent tannins. They are often aged in oak barrels, which impart flavors of vanilla, spice and smoke to the wine. Pinot Noir wines from California tend to be more fruit-forward and have a higher alcohol content, while New Zealand Pinot Noir wines are known for their bright, juicy fruit character and a vibrant acidity.
Overall, German Spätburgunder wines are considered unique and have their own characteristics that set them apart from other Pinot Noir wines from around the world.
Other red varieties include Dornfelder, a red grape variety that German viticulturalists developed in the 1950s by crossing two Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe. The grape is known for its deep color, high sugar content, and good disease resistance. Dornfelder wines display a rich, full-bodied character and have a high alcohol content, up to 13%, which may increase with climate change. They typically have a deep red color, and exhibit a wide range of aromas and flavors, including black fruit such as blackberries, plums, spice, and chocolate notes. Dornfelder is a relatively versatile grape variety, and can be used to make a wide range of wine styles, from dry and medium-dry to sweet and sparkling wines.
Frühburgunder (also known as "Early Burgundy" or "Pinot Meunier") is a red grape variety closely related to Spätburgunder. Famed for its early ripening, this allows it to be harvested earlier than other varieties. Germany is the home of the grape, particularly the regions of Baden and Pfalz. You will find red wine made from Frühburgunder with a lighter in body and color than that made from Spätburgunder. They often have a bright acidity, with a fruity character that can include notes of red berries, currants and cherries. Frühburgunder wines are known for their freshness and drinkability, and are typically consumed young.
Due to its early ripening, Frühburgunder is less susceptible to damage from spring frosts and disease, making it a more reliable grape variety for growers. It is also considered a more versatile grape variety than Spätburgunder, it can be used to make a wide range of wine styles, from dry and medium-dry to sweet and sparkling wines. Frühburgunder, however, is somewhat rare, accounting for a small percentage of the red wine production in Germany. Red wines made from this grape are a specialty item and rarely see export.
Five German Red Wines from Bottle Barn
So are so salivating? Ready to buy red wine online? Here are five recommended German red wines available for online ordering at that favorite wine store Santa Rosa, “where wine country buys wine.”
- 2016 Philipp Kuhn Pinot Noir Tradition from Pfalz. Located in the southwestern part of Germany, Pfalz is known for its warm climate and diverse soils. The region is well regarded for its red wines made from Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Dornfelder, and Portugieser. Wines from Pfalz are generally fruity and smooth. This particular wine is redolent with aromas of black cherries and plums, red rose petals, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. You will also find hints of violets and a touch of vanilla. On the palate encounter raspberries, cherries, and pomegranate with a minerality typical of wines from Laumersheim.
- 2017 Ziereisen Tschuppen Spatburgunder from Baden. Located in the southwestern part of Germany, Baden is known for its warm climate ideal for cultivating red grapes. The region is particularly renowned for its Spätburgunder wines, which are renowned for their elegance, complexity, and nuanced flavors. The winemaker says “there are an interesting variety of aromas including lemony roses, dark plums, blackberries, dark cherries, and dark chocolate. Flavors are also an interesting mix of raspberries, blackberries, dark cherries, and a hint of chocolate.”
- 2019 Salwey Henkenberg Pinot Noir GG from Baden. This wine features abundant fruity and spicy aromas that represent the soil diversity on the Henkenberg. This vintage has an impressive mouthfeeling and juicyness, with soft, rich tannins, according to the winemaker. The fermentation included grapes on the stems, for some soft tannins.
- 2017 Schnaitmann Steinwiege Lemberger. This red grape variety is grown primarily in the region of Baden and Württemberg. Wine drinkers love Lemberger wines for their complex, spicy and fruity character, with a good acidity and moderate tannins, which gives them a good balance. They have a deep red color and can be enjoyed with a variety of meat dishes and strong cheeses.
- Not exactly a red wine, but made from Pinot Noir is the Loosen Brut Rose. And there’s always room for sparkling wine! This is actually the first vintage of a rare Pinot Noir Sekt from Dr. Loosen, located in the Middle Mosel. This brilliant sparkling Rose is the result of traditional method bottle fermentation, five years of lees ageing, alongside hand-riddling and disgorgement.
Did you learn a bit about German red wine? Don’t you want to try some? Please leave us a comment below!