Even though Oktoberfest has already come and gone, it didn't stop us from having a German feast to warm up in the chilly fall weather. It was an amazing spread of German fare which we paired with German wines and beer. We even incorporated a Riesling blind wine tasting, since it is the most popular wine varietal of Germany.
Germans favor hearty meals including meat, such as pork, beef and poultry, in that order of popularity. The average person in Germany consumes up to 72 pounds of meat a year. Meat is usually pot-roasted and consumed as sausages. There are more than 1500 different types of sausage in Germany.This dinner was also special because I was chosen to share this for FoodBuzz's 24, 24, 24... a virtual culinary festival that highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period. Along with 23 other chosen food bloggers, we hosted our culinary event today with various perspectives in mind. Here's what graced our table and really captured the delicious cuisine of Germany:
Spinach & Goat Cheese Salad w/Bavaian Candied Pecans
Kasespatzle (Cheese Spaetzle)
Please check back during this week for the above German recipes! As I've always believed, you can learn a lot about a culture through it's cuisine so come take a culinary adventure to Germany with me this week.
Aside from the delicious meal, we had a chance to learn about German wines which we paired with dinner. Germany is continental Europe's coolest and most northerly wine producing country. It's also one of the most difficult areas in which to grow great wines. Each year, winemakers fret over frost and rain and the ripeness of the grapes. Ripeness is such an issue that the wine laws are based as much on a grape's maturity and sugar contact as they are on where the grapes were grown.
The wine laws rewarded the ripest grapes by labeling the subsequent wines according to the sugar level of the grapes that produced the, A series of difficult terms indicate the merit of a wine. Good wines bear the term Qualitatswein (quality wine), but are made from less-ripe grapes than those labeled Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (quality wine with descriptor). There are six pradikat classifications, including, in ascending order of sugar level:
- Eiswein (ice wine) is reserved for wines made from frozen grapes
While we waited for all our guests to arrive, we enjoyed these two German wines:
Dr. Beckermann's Liebfraumilch (Qualitatswein) 2008 - This wine comes from the Rheinhessen, Germany's Rhein/Hessen region. (Rhein = the river Rhein or Rhine. Hessen = the state of Hessen in central Germany; largest city is Frankfurt.) In terms of production, the Rheinhessen wine region is the largest wine growing region in Germany. This wine is literally translated as "Lovely Woman's Milk." The term Liebfraumilch is a creative, poetic invention to describe a sweet wine that might taste like the milk from a beautiful lady. Liebe Frau = "Dear Lady," or "Lovely Lady," or our "Beloved Lady." Milch is the German word for "milk." Interestingly, most all Liebfraumilch wines feature a label with a picture of the Mother Mary with Child (Madonna with Child). Liebfraumilch wine is produced by blending a variety of grapes and adding sugar to the crush. Traditional grape varieties used for this wine are: Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner and Riesling.
Joseph Handler Sweet Red 2008 - This wine is produced from the native Dornfelder grape, and has flavors of raspberry and plum with silky tannins and delicate sweetness. Although the bottle is labeled as a sweet red, it's slightly misleading because it's not all that sweet. Nearly 80% of the wine grapes grown in Germany are of the "white" variety. Germany is not well known for red wines.
German White Wine Varietals:
Pinot Gris (Rulander)
German Red Wine Varietals:
Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder)
Pinot Gris (Rulander)
German Red Wine Varietals:
Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder)
The climate is much too cool to ripen red grapes to the level needed for producers to compete on the world market, but many lovely and elegant reds are made from the Pinot Noir grape. The are rarely seen outside of Germany, however, and can be rather pricey.
Wine labels aside, Germany produced some of the most elegant, complex, versatile, and long-lived wines anywhere. The best are based on the Riesling grape, which reigns over the top vineyards. Since Rieslings are such a popular grape in Germany, it seemed only natural to have a blind riesling wine tasting among friends.
Dr. Loosen Riesling (2008) - This wine was the first one we sampled in our blind tasting. Dr. L embodies the elegant and racy style of Riesling from the steep, slate-soil vineyards of the Mosel Valley. It's a fruity wine that's low in alcohol, with a refreshingly crisp taste that cools the palate, making it an excellent wine for spicy foods. - www.drloosen.com
We thought this wine had a slightly sour aroma, but when tasted it was sweet with a short finish. The best way we could really describe the flavor is that it tasted as if you bit into a ripe Granny Smith apple. On a scale from 1 -5 (1 = awful and 5 = awesome), this wine scored an overall likeness rating of 3.5.
This impressive wall of vines, beginning at the village of Bernkastel and continuing downstream for about six kilometers, is one of the longest continuous stretches of top-rated vineyards in Europe.
Ulrich Langguth Riesling (2008) - This was the second wine of our blind tasting. It's a fruity and elegant wine with a refreshing acidity. It pairs well with poultry, pork, barbecue and can be enjoyed by itself, served slightly chilled.
The present Ulrich Langguth wine estate in Traben-Trarback on the Mosel was founded in 1921 after brothers Franz and Ulrich Langguth decided to divide their inheritance. The estate, with vineyards near the wine villages of Enkirch, Traben and Piesport, is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Germany, in the heart of Rheinland-Pfalz.We thought this wine was opposite of the first in that the aroma was not quite as sour but definitely was more sour tasting with a longer finish. It was the least liked of the three Rieslings we tasted. On a scale from 1 -5 (1 = awful and 5 = awesome), this wine scored an overall likeness rating of 2.75.
Relax Riesling (2008) - Our final Riesling in our blind tasting is the Relax Riesling. Slightly drier than traditional Rieslings, RELAX Riesling has a clean, crisp, fruity flavor that makes a great dinner wine, party wine or just a simply unwind after work wine.
Relax Riesling is fermented slightly dry with a wonderful fruity bouquet and intense flavors of apples and peaches with just a hint of citrus. The natural acidity gives this wine a perfect balance that is refreshingly crisp and leaves your mouth watering. A perfect party wine, or can be enjoyed with a variety of foods from seafood and poultry to Asian food and fresh salads.
We found this to be the favorite of the three because it definitely had a perfect balance of sweetness and just the right finish - not too long, not too short. On a scale from 1 -5 (1 = awful and 5 = awesome), this wine scored an overall likeness rating of 4.5.
We learned quite a bit about Riesling wines and the wine industry of Germany. Have you been inspired to grab a glass of Riesling? Don't forget to come back all this week for the recipes we prepared for our wine dinner!