Looking for the best German wine to buy? Want to know more about Germany's most important wine-making region? Read our expert guide then check out our guides to the best English pinot noirs, Sancerre and Loire Valley wines, albariño wines to buy, and the lowdown on oaked wine for more inspiration.


About German wine

The Romans introduced viticulture to what we now call Germany in around 50BC. As they conquered lands north of the Alps, they were drawn to the transport routes of the River Rhine and its tributaries, most famously the Mosel, in the south-west of the country which have powered the economy here for millennia.

Two thousand years later, this area remains Germany’s most important wine-making region. The hillsides plunge precipitously down to narrow valleys – these are the steepest vineyards in the world, where all the work is done by hand and harvesters have to sit on chairs dragged up the slopes on rails to pick. This is labour-intensive production and prices of the best wines reflect this, but the quality can be sublime.

Riesling is the major grape here, and the one that gave German wines such a bad reputation only a few years ago. These days quality has improved hugely and now riesling is used to make really thrilling wines in steely, searingly dry styles, as well as the more traditional off-dry wines that generally come in at modestly low alcohol levels of 10% or less, and are brilliant with gently spiced food.

Labelling can be intimidating and confusing – look for trocken (dry), kabinett (dry to off-dry), spätlese (sweet) and auslese (sweeter) to get a steer on what you’re buying. Müller-thurgau, pinot gris and pinot blanc are the other main white grapes grown, although innovative makers are now experimenting with others. Red wines make up only 12% of production here, the vast majority of which is pinot noir, known as spätburgunder, and is generally elegant, savoury and earthy.

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As well as esteemed traditional producers such as JJ Prüm, Fürst and Dönnhoff, innovative young winemakers are also getting in on the act making exciting natural wines that are probably more like the wines the Romans made than the pristine, modern incarnations. After decades in the doldrums, German wine is on the rise again.

Best German wine to buy at a glance

  • Best German rosé: Johann Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2020, £11.95
  • Best German orange wine: Staffelter Hof ‘Little Bastard’, £29
  • Best alcohol-free German wine: Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Riesling, £9.99
  • Best German sparkling wine: Dr Loosen Sparkling Extra Dry Riesling Sekt, £22.50
  • Best German white wine: Weinhaus Sauvignon Blanc Kalkstein, £9.99

Best German wine to buy 2023

Johann Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2020

A juicy German Pinot Noir Rosé against a white backdrop

Best German rosé

Full of juicy berry fruits with a little gentle spritz. Great for summer drinking in the sun with light dishes.

Available from:
Slurp (£11.95)

Staffelter Hof ‘Little Bastard’

A bottle of natural orange wine against a white backdrop

Best German orange wine

An unusual blend of riesling, sauvignon blanc, müller thurgau and muscat, this natural orange wine is slightly cloudy but joyously fresh. Floral and spritzy with citrus zest.

Available from:
Modal Wines (£29)

Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Riesling

A bottle of Leitz Eins Zwei Zero

Best alcohol-free German wine

My favourite alcohol-free wine, an off-dry riesling with zesty, peachy fruit that’s brilliant with Thai or Vietnamese food.

Available from:
Waitrose (£9.99)

Dr Loosen Sparkling Extra Dry Riesling Sekt

A sparkling German wine in a bottle green colour against a white backdrop

Best German sparkling wine

This sparkling wine is made by one of Germany’s top producers from sustainably grown riesling grapes. Green apples, lemon zest and apricots sit with notes of buttered toast – a lovely alternative to champagne.

Available from:
Latitude Wine & Liquor Merchant (£22.50)

Weinhaus Sauvignon Blanc Kalkstein

A bottle of Weinhaus Sauvignon Blanc Kalkstein

Best German white wine

A cracking sauv blanc from Germany, fresh and grassy with elderflower and gooseberry fruit. Fantastic with roast scallops, or try it with celeriac shawarma.

Available from:
Waitrose (£9.99)


Check out more regional wine guides here:

Best Georgian wine
Best Jura wines
Best Sicilian wine
Best Greek wine
Best Hungarian wine
Best South African wine
Best English wine
Best Portuguese red wine
Best Italian red wine
Best Stellenbosch wine


Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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