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German wine - wine basics

Origin of German wines

Nobody knows when and where wine first appeared, but certainly wild vines existed long before man as 130 million years ago - and modern scientific tests have shown that wine was produced by man 8,000 years ago. Although these early wines could have borne little resemblance to our modern vintages.

The history of German wines began with the ancient Romans who conquered the region about 100 B.C. and started cultivating grapes soon thereafter. In the Middle Ages the monastic orders established many of Germany's finest vineyards and, with their meticulous care of the vines and wines, set the standard for the high quality of German viticulture.

The Church's vineyards were divided up and sold to private owners and the states when Napoleon conquered the Rhine region in 1803 - yet the vineyards thrived and the fame of their wines continued. Since then there has been constant progress and development.

The most northerly of the wine-growing countries, Germany produces the loveliest, lightest, most delicate white wines in the world. Low in alcohol and exquisitely balanced, they are wines of charm and subtle nuances. Other wine countries have planted the same grapes - most notably, the Riesling - and tried to make the same wines, but they have been, at best, imitations. Other factors which contribute to the unique character of German wines, such as soil structure and climate, simply cannot be relocated.

The wines grown in Germany are extremely diverse, although they bear a family resemblance. Tasting is the best way to appreciate the special character of German wines, as well as to understand the subtle differences which distinguish a Rhine wine from a Mosel wine, or a Riesling from a Silvaner, or a simple table wine from a late-harvested wine


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German Wine - Wine from Germany