Wine Talk

Snooth User: shsim

German Wines!

Posted by shsim, Feb 21, 2012.

Hello Snoothers!

Anyone has any opinion or reccomendations on German Wines? I only know the Affentaler monkeys (They have nice bottles!) and Blue nun. So my knowledge is miserable. Please share your experience! :D

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 22, 2012.

What do you know about the regions in Germany, and their classification system?

Reply by shsim, Feb 22, 2012.

Yea I do not know what regions there are nor about their classification system... I just know there are different names and they are known for riesling.. I can read about that on wiki or if someone want to share their knoweldge that would be great! .. but I was more wondering what wines people have enjoyed so I know what to look for when I get german wine. For example, is the Affentaler Riesling good?

Reply by BigWoodenSpoon, Feb 22, 2012.


As a member of the SF chapter of the German Wine Society, I have a bit of knowledge I could share.

I have not had the Affentler, so I can't comment on it. However, there are so many different styles and choices, let's try to narrow the field a little.

How much are you generally comfortable spending for your Rielsing? The quality producers will defintely cost you more than Blue Nun, but are totally worth it. Wines from the Mosel are classically known for having finesse and expressing where they come from while the Rheingau can have wines that are more round, big, lush and IMO super delicious. (Schloss Schonborn is my favorite)

What flavors are you looking for in your Riesling? Apples, peaches, pineapple, citrus?                          Do you like it when a wine has high enough acidity that it pops in your mouth with lip-smacking goodness? My friend Ann loves aged Rieslings that have a pronounced mineral (petrol) flavor and I'm leaning towards the pineapple scrape-my-tongue-with-an-acid-bath ones at the moment. (Hexamer from the Nahe has a Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Spatlese ($36) that's totally up my alley)

Not all Riesling are sweet and the awesome ones have a wonderful balance of ripe friut, soil and acidity. The easiest way to getting a better idea about what you like is to find a good local wine bar and/or shop and experience them for yourself. In the meantime, read about the regions and classification system, see what areas & styles intrigue you and come back with more specific questions like:" What is your favorite Kabinett from the Rheingau that's under $20?"

A case in point: I opening a bottle of 2006 Navarro (CA) White Riesling which was so delicious and then I followed it up with a 2006 Schloss Schonborn Pfaffenberg Riesling Auslese that had so much more complexity and depth of flavor that it really delighted the Riesling Geek in me. Two favorite wineries, two totally different countries and soil types equals happy taste buds. Riesling Rules!

Reply by shsim, Feb 22, 2012.

Wow thank you so much BigWoodenSpoon!

with regards to spending, I can spend not more than 50 on a bottle and not many at one time. Student stipend budget. I definitely go for good value at this point.

Yea I dont like riesling that are too sweet. I like it when it has enough acidity such that its taste very refreshing and light. yea i feel riesling has a reputation of being sweet a little because of the late harvest wines they make..

you are right, time to do some more research!! :D There are just so much to taste! Now my goal is just to taste different varietals and understand the difference (country, year etc).

Good to know!

What is this German wine society? Are there chapters in different cities?

Reply by EMark, Feb 22, 2012.


I am not a Riesling expert, and BWS has given some good advice, above.  However, I cannot resist throwing in some ideas.

You might also want to check out these definitions at Wikipedia so that you can get a handle on some German nomenclatures:

  • Kabinet
  • Spatlese
  • Auslese
  • Beerenauslese
  • Trockenberenauslese

In a nutshell, I can say that the farther you go down that list, the more spendy the wine is.

The region of origin is very important for most grapes, not just Rieslings.  There is no debate that some of the greatest examples of Rieling-based wines come from Germany.  Obviously, they come with appropriate price tags.  Here are some ideas of regions I seek out when looking for U.S. produced Rieslings, which will come in at a little less, dollar-wise.

  • California, Anderson Valley.  BWS mentions the Navarro.  Navarro is in the town of Philo in the Anderson Valley (for my money an awesomely beautiful drive).  Right down the street from Navarro is Husch.  Look for either of these or other examples that indicate "Anderson Valley" on the label.
  • Washington State.  Washington state is emerging as another U.S. wine center.  They seem to be having a problem finding the grape that matches there region--like Oregon has connected with Pinot Noir.  So, there have been good efforts in different varietals in WA.  Obvioulsy, I am impressed with Washington Rieslings.
  • Finger Lakes region of New York.  New York is all over Riesling.  If you want to try one of their Ice Wines, it will be very sweet.  It comes under the definition of "Dessert Wine," which is a whole wonderful world in and of itself.

One thing you will notice about all these regions--they are all, fairly cool weather regions.  If you see a Riesling from California's Central Valley (e.g., Lodi), put it back on the shelf.






Reply by lakenvelder, Feb 22, 2012.

I have never had  Affentaler monkeys but it is a dry German Riesling and Blue Nun is a easy-drinking semi-sweet wine made for the Internatiional market. It was the wine that came out every Christmas and Thanksgivingwhen I was a child. Do some reseach on Reisling wines and you will be abe to find some great wines that will not break the bank. You are most liley not interested in ice wine since they tend to be very sweet. Enjoy! 

Reply by shsim, Feb 22, 2012.

Emark, Thanks for the advice! That is a great place to start with! I really appreciate the help! I find it difficult to grasp with the long names and all... its kinda tough to remember. But I guess the more Im exposed the easier it is!

Oh I have had husch before! pretty decent but I have not tried their riesling. I will keep a lookout for them the next time! Yes I have heard plenty about washington. My friend from there is always dissapointed that he cannot find them here that easily.. at least not from good small wineries. They have great values!

I have never had wines from New york but friends from there are definitely proud of it! I only had vermont ice wines and yes they are pretty sweet. They are good but I can only do so much of it. Hopefully ill get to taste more from the east!

Thank you for the great point at the end. I do feel like the region defines what a place can grow relatively well. That is why the arguement that Temecula (desert area) cannot grow much good grapes.. They try to grow everything which I feel they should just stick to what the weather and climate permits to make the best out of it..

Lakenvelder, Thank you for your advice! yea, I have had plenty of blue nun back home!

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 22, 2012.

BWS, and others...the few german rieslings's i've had from mosel, as kabinett class have been too sweet for my tastes, or at least not enough acid.

Definitely looking for the what you describe as the "awesome ones have a wonderful balance of ripe friut, soil and acidity" The price range you mention at around $36 sounds good, but i'm sure the best come at a much higher tariff.

Reply by BigWoodenSpoon, Feb 22, 2012.

German Wine Society: German wine enthusiasts who come together for tastings, wine dinners and events. Each chapter is different, but if you love Riesling like I love Riesling, you might want to check them out. The San Francisco chapter is particularly awesome and our next event will be a wine dinner in April.


Officers  Directors  Chapter Chairs

Email addresses for officers, directors and chapter chairs can be accessed by clicking the letter icon.

For general inquiries, our default email address is:

George Marling, Chairman of the Board

Kenneth Kelly   

Alice Fitz

Armin Göring

Don Reddicks

Beth C. Sheligo

Mark Squires

Beth C. Sheligo, President

Also, Members at Large Liaison

Don Reddicks, Vice President
Also, German Wine Information Bureau Liaison

Kenneth Kelly, Vice President
Also, Investments; New Chapter Liaison

Hanne Caraher, Secretary/Treasurer

Atlanta, Georgia

Donald A. Reddicks

 Charles Stratton

New England:
David M. Bueker

New York, NY:
Bob Gutenstein

Philadelphia/South Jersey
Beth C. Sheligo

San Francisco, CA:
Jennifer Dickinson, President and Secretary

Washington, D.C. (Capital Chapter):
Blair Alan Knapp, Jr., PMP
Capital Chapter Website

I also enjoy Washington Rieslings, but they are a different animal compared to Germany and if you haven't had an Austrian one and you like "Trocken" (dry), give one from the Wachau a try. The minerality of Austrian wine are unique and if you like dessert wine with power and acidity, Kracher is hard to beat.

As far as deals to be had, check to see if your local wine shop is having an clearance of older vintages or if a local retailer has a special relationship with a German distributor. The Schonborn I talked about earlier retailed at the German wine shop for $59, but I bought it for $16 at my local Grocery Outlet.        K & L Wines (based in SF) usually has something in their Inventory Clearance section on-line that looks promising, depending on what you're interested in.

Another amazingly delicious wine to investigate is Kerner from Italy's Alto Adige. A cross of Riesling and Schiava grossa, it's the wine that got me hooked with it's unusual flavor profile and intriguing balance. Go geeky whites!

Reply by petersenchristian, Feb 23, 2012.

I am living in germany, therefore reading your price-tags, really surprises me. A very decent bottle of Riesling or Weissburgunder costs arround 7 Euro.  This applies to wine sold directly from the vineyard, but also from shops, as they try to maintain the same prices. You only have to spend more if you want the sweet stuff or the famous labels. So where does the difference between our 7 Euro and your 30-50 Dollar come from? Is it taxes? Duties? Shipping?

The same applies vice versa. When we travelled through New Zealand, a bottle of Cloudy Bay cost us below 10 NZDollars. If I buy the stuff here, you hardly find anything below 30 Euro.

Why is that? Renting a 20 foot container and shipping some wine over, can´t be that expensive. 

Reply by shsim, Feb 23, 2012.

@ JonBerry, I didnt know Rieslings are pricey compared to other varietals. Can you not get a decent bottle for a good value? at least in California?

@BWS, that is perfect! Now I wish there was something similar in San Diego! I am still trying to find people who would be interested in doing something like that... I do not particularly go for riesling but I do enjoy it! Oh wow, I will have to go check it out! I heard about K&L! I have shopped on their online store before and they have great deals! I just like to browse though. I visit San Francisco at least once a year and I will probably head up soon so I will likely go tasting up north and check out K&L!

@ petersen, yea it is probably all the factors you mentioned. There is a market for it and so prices go up because of that. It is mainly middleman selling. Other than the importing they are doing, they have to jack up the price for warehousing them (shopfront or actual warehouse) then do the selling.. It is like getting a bottle at a restaurant, they are usually twice the price of the bottles in California... and that is because they have to make it worth it to open a bottle, serve it in good glasseware and storing them properly. It cost alot to store that much wines properly too. At least for proper sellers who know their stuff.. and you really dont want to get stuff from an untrusted seller... because the wines can go bad if not stored properly!

Reply by duncan 906, Feb 23, 2012.

I spent a weekend in Germany last year and made the mistake of ordering a German red in the restaurant.It was a Markgraf Von Baden, a pinot noir, but it was awful.Fortunately there was an Italian merlot on the table as well.

Reply by shsim, Feb 23, 2012.

Haha! Was it that bad? I only had blue nuns before from Germany.. I visited two years ago and although I did have wines, I dont remember what they were.. They like to mix their wines with sparkling water/soda... so that was interesting. Maybe that is why they mix it.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Feb 23, 2012.

German reds have made huge strides over thee past decaade or so and many will argue that thier Pinot Noirs in particualr are world class. Which of course doesn't prevent anybody from bottling crappy product and foisting it on unsuspecting consumers. Like the best Rieslings, the best German Pinots are pretty expensive, but the offer a particualrly crisp, crunchy expression of Pinot Noir that can be mouth watering and absolutely delicious.

Reply by BigWoodenSpoon, Feb 23, 2012.

@shsim: Let me know when you're planning on being in town and we can co-geek if you like.

Reply by shsim, Feb 23, 2012.

@ Greg, do you have any recommendations of German wines you enjoy?

@ BWS, sounds fun! :D

Reply by petersenchristian, Feb 24, 2012.

@duncan: You are right. There are two kinds of german reds. The traditional reds are pretty light, you can normally look through them and the have a slight scent of fowling fruits. I guess you would call this an "acquired taste".  If you are used to them and you know, what to expect, these pinot noirs can be excellent. The more modern german red is  more targeted for international tastebuds. Heavy, you can not look though it, taste of dried fruits, chocolate and lots of wood. This is what we have leant from California and from the Australians. A good example is vineyard Meyer-Naekel. You will love their wines:

or this one:

The link in snooth seems to be sold out. Enjoy, 


Reply by duncan 906, Feb 24, 2012.

I ordered this Markgraf von Baden in the restaurant because it was a German red and I was in Germany and I had no previous experience of German reds.I thought it pretty awful and so did my companions.It was a waste because we did not finish the bottle.I then drank the Italian merlott tjhat was also on the table.I have never seen German reds on sale here in London although we do get a lot of German whites.Blue Nun is a very popular brand of Liebfraumilch

Reply by RBrumer, Feb 24, 2012.


okay, hopefully you're not all wore out with all the help you've been getting.


It seems as if you're from San Diego, so you should have no problem finding a good selection.

And if $50.00 is you're limit, also no problem.

You can buy very good German wines  for less than $20.00.

And you can get world-class whites  without spending much more.

Lots of great German rieslings in the high 20s and incredible wines  for 30-40.

I would suggest  looking for wines brought in by somew of the top specialist German importers.

Rudi Wiest and Terry Theise. heir name on a label will ensure that you have a very good bottle of wine.

For Wiest wines you can look for the basic Von Hovel Estate riesling from the Mosel.

To take a step up, high 20s(??) from the Rheinhessen, you should try the Gunderloch Jean Baptiste

Riesling Kabinett, avery high quality wine.  It is a drier, crisper wine than the Von Hovel, but with lots of character. A great food wine, where the Von Hovel can be just an everyday, anytime cocktail sort of wine.  Try with some fresh fruit.

Moving up in price, you can try some of his wines from Joh Jos Prum, a German wine legend.

His Riesling Spatlese is tremendous. Will have a little more sugar to it, but is very well balanced.

From Terry Theise, you can try the Leitz Dragonstone riesling form the Rheingau. A very good inexpensive delight.

A bit more serious from Theise, from the Mosel, is the Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett.

As far as vintages go, you should be seeing the 09s, which are great.

If you want to do some reading, some fun reading, you can go to, who imports Theise, and click on his catalog. His catalogs are amazing. He is almost maniacal, but he manages to get across the delight of good wine. He gives you a lot of info, but he can make your mouth water for his wines.

He tells you  what makes these wines great, and provides the story of who is behind the winery.

Worth a look if you want to learn something.

He might be a maniac, and wants to convert you, but like I said, worth a look.



Reply by shsim, Feb 24, 2012.

@ Christian I am glad we have the insider's insights about German wines. Do people in Germany generally prefer the traditional or is there a movement towards more international tasting reds?

@ Duncan, that is good to know! Now i will be cautious about German reds and remember what Christian said. Question for Christian, how do you differentiate between traditional and more modern German wines? Do you just have to know by the wineries?

@ RBrumer, thank you so much for your recommendations! Looks lilke you gave me plenty to start with! Do Riesling Kabinett age well?

Thank you everyone for contributing! I am definitely learning alot! :D

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