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Liebfraumilch and Other Popular Wines
The Language Of Germany

Most German wines are white: red grape varieties cover less than 15% of the vineyards, although this percentage is increasing.

The main determinants of wine style in Germany are quality level, as described above, wine district and vineyard, grape variety and the aim of the winemaker. To these must be added vintage: years differ markedly.

Each of the quality levels has a differing minimum must weight in each region. Broadly, in the northern regions wines do not need as much natural sugar to quality as in more southern ones. Thus a Kabinett from the Mosel will be lower in alcohol than one from Baden.

The law thus formalizes differences that stem from climate and other environmental factors: the more northern regions are the most sensitive to slight differences in the site, orientation and soil of the vineyard. A German winemaker does not have the homogeneity of the Bordeaux chateau with its single product from a hundred hectares. One small estate may have a dozen separate plots of vines, and may make three dozen wines from them, defined according to site and ripeness. Discussions about style soon turn, therefore, to specific bottles: it is hard to codify German wine styles.

German wine is, however, when compared with French or Italian, a distinct sort of wine: it stresses the fruit-acid balance rather than alcohol, and the purity of the grape rather than derived flavours such as those that oak-ageing brings.

Wine regions of the world.

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