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The 6 major white varieties in Germany

A guest article by Estelle Platini.

Here is an overview of the German varieties of white grapes for wine.

Riesling grapesRiesling

It is the finest and best known of Germany’s white varieties. Its small grapes ripen late – in October or November. This long, slow ripening period allows it to develop more aroma and a harmonious balance.
Wine: fragrant, fine-fruit bouquet; lively, pronounced acidity; piquant taste; potential for ageing because of racy acidity.


Müller-Thurgau grapesIt is now the most widely planted grape in Germany (23% of total vineyard area). It is a crossing of two varieties, probably Riesling and Silvaner, developed in 1882 in Geisenheim, Germany, by Prof. H. Müller from Thurgau, Switzerland. The grapes ripen early, usually in September.
Wine: flowery bouquet; milder acidity than Riesling; slight muscat flavour; best consumed while fresh and young.

Silvaner grapesSilvaner

It is a traditional variety. Its medium-sized, juicy grapes ripen somewhat earlier than Riesling.
Wine: neutral bouquet; mild acidity; full-bodied, pleasant wines; best enjoyed while young.


Kerner grapesIt is a popular new cross, developed from Trollinger (a red variety) and Riesling (a white variety). It has thick-skinned, early-ripening grapes.
Wine: light muscat bouquet; racy, lively acidity; similar to Riesling.

Scheurebe grapesScheurebe

It is another new crossing — this time of Silvaner and Riesling.
Wine: lively acidity; bouquet and taste reminiscent of black currents.


Ruländer/Grauburgunder grapes(Grauburgunder, pinot grigio, pinot gris) is among the best varieties in Germany. It ripens at the same time as Silvaner.
Wine: robust, full-bodied, smooth, soft, and full on the palate.

Other varieties…

There are other white wine varieties in Germany that are just as interesting and which you should try: the fruity, flowery Bacchus, the light, mild Gutedel, the racy, neutral Elbling, or the Morio-Muskat, with its flowery bouquet and pronounced flavour.

As a complement you can read an overview of the major German varieties of red grapes.


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