Wines and Vineyards of the Rhine Valley.

The Rhine Valley (Rheingau) is one of the 13 recognised wine districts in Germany , noted more for the quality of the wines produced than for the quantity. It certainly has the oldest wine-growing tradition in Germany - going back to the time of the Romans and the emperor Charles the Great is said to have planted vines here.

Although, as for Germany as a whole, far more white wines are produced than red , it is undoubtedly the region where THE best German reds are produced .

The dominant Wine of the Rhine Valley is Riesling accounting for around 80% of production.The abundance of slate in the soil together with near perfect weather conditions account for the dominance of the Riesling grape.

The better Rieslings are characterised by a superb and elegant fruitiness balanced and offset by an appropriate acidity. While Riesling wines are produced in other parts of the world -e.g. The United States and South Africa -the vines so named there are generally different from the German vine and this together with differences in soil and climate conditions means that German Riesling is quite distinct from those produced elsewhere.

One of the highlights of a holiday in the Rheingau is sitting on a terrace overlooking the Rhine on a fine summer day and enjoying a glass of chilled Riesling - a wow it's good to be alive experience!

As mentioned the finest German reds are produced in the Rheingau and you should certainly sample some of these on your holiday. The German reds are lighter than the full-bodied French and Spanish red wines and are characterised by a suptle delicacy. I personally find they give of their best with duck or goose rather than with mutton or beef that I think require a heavier wine. That of course is just my persönal taste - many of my friends also enjoy them with red meats - you'll have to decide that one for yourselves!

The best way to get to know the wines of the Rhine River Valley is to visit the wine estates. Some organize a walk through the vineyards overlooking the Rhine with a picnic stop along the way where one samples the wines and enjoys a light picnic lunch.

If you get the opportunity to go on such a tour - take it. A wonderful day -fresh air , magnificent scenery good wine and food - what more could one ask for !

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