Lesser Known White Wines of Germany

When it comes to German white wines, many people’s knowledge begins and ends with Riesling. Some may have a bottle or two of Gewürztraminer in their wine cooler. But there are actually 17 varieties of white wine grape grown in Germany. Some of these are French varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Others are unique to Germany. This article will look at some of the lesser known varieties of German white wine grape.

German White Wines From The Silvaner Grape

Silvaner is notorious as the grape that formed the basis of Liebfraumilch, the cheap and nasty white wine that was unaccountably popular in the 1970s. But in the Franconia region of Germany, it is also used to produce some high quality wines. Franconian Silvaner wines are very acidic, which is why Liebfraumilch gained the unflattering nickname of “paint stripper”, but in the right hands, the Silvaner grape can be used to make a refreshing dry white wine. And because of the grape’s poor reputation, you may be able to find good wines made from it at far lower prices than you would expect for a wine of that quality.

German White Wines From The Kerner Grape

Kerner is a grape variety first bred in 1929 and named in honor of the German poet Justinus Kerner, who often wrote about wine. It is a cross between a Riesling and the red Trollinger grape. Surprisingly, crossing a red and a white grape did not produce a rosé variety, Kerner wines tend to be straw colored. The wine writer Jancis Robinson has described Kerner wines as being “commendably close to Riesling in flavor except with their own leafy aroma and very slightly coarser texture.”

Many of the best known Kerner wines are Italian, rather than German, but it originated in the Palatinate region of Germany, where it is one of the dominant grape varieties, along with Muller-Thurgau, Morio Muscat and, increasingly, the ubiquitous Riesling.

German White Wines From The Bacchus Grape

The Bacchus is another hybrid variety of grape, this time created by crossing a Riesling with a Silvaner. It is named after the Roman god of wine and unrelated to the Bacchus Black, a red variety of grape grown in the Alps. Wines made from the Bacchus grape tend to be similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, and are good with vegetarian or fish dishes. Bacchus wines are very dry and their low sugar content makes some of them suitable for diabetics.