I always find it hard to convince wine lovers to try German Rieslings – so many people still think of them as being nasty, sweet and all tasting like cheap Liebfraumilch. The truth may be the complete reverse but, sadly, the reputation remains. And, if German whites are a hard sell, how about their reds? In fact, did you even know that Germany made red wine? Give yourself a big pat on the back if you said yes and a bonus mark if you’ve ever tasted one!
We visited Assmanshausen on the Rhine last year, one of the few villages in Germany dedicated almost exclusively to red wines. They are made from a grape called Spätburgunder locally (we probably know it better as the Burgundy variety, Pinot Noir) and we loved what we tasted so much that I’ve been looking out for them ever since.
Given what I said in the first paragraph, they’re not going to be on every UK wine merchant’s shelf but, again, the Wine Society has come up trumps with a delicious example from Martin Wassmer (£12.95).
He has vineyards in the Baden region in the south of Germany where the climate is milder than much of the country and seems to suit the tricky-to-ripen Pinot Noir grape perfectly. The example we tasted had the typical earthy, farmyardy nose that mark out so many good Pinots. It was quite light bodied and relatively low in tannin but with lovely savoury flavours and an intense plummy fruitiness. Really drinkable and moreish, this would partner duck, turkey or chicken beautifully or even lightly chilled on its own.
And once you’ve tried a German red, have a re-think about their whites, too: a good quality dry Riesling (look for the word ‘Trocken’ on the label) is a real delight and about as far from the dreaded Liebfraumilch as it is possible to imagine.