Wines of the Rhine

If you are going to celebrate the Eucharist, you need to have wine. So, when Charlemagne brought Christianity across the Rhine into Western Germany, he brought viticulture with him. The Rhine Valley has been producing wine ever since.

Rhine River Cruises Grapes

Riesling grapes in Rhineland- Palatinate. By Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, via Wikimedia Commons

As your river cruise palace meanders through the scenic countryside, you will be staring at hillsides of vineyards all the way from Bonn on the Rhine to Bamberg on the Main. Most of the German vineyards are in the river valleys. You will be toasting your way through about eleven distinct wine regions. Some will actually be on the same river you are traveling. Some will be on the tributaries that join along the way. The Finest Wines of Germany: A Regional Guide to the Best Producers and Their Wines (Fine Wine Editions), Wine Spectator (1-year auto-renewal)

As you move south and east from Bonn, the wine regions you pass and the primary wines they produce are as follows:

Ahr: This region is on the river Ahr that joins the Rhine just south of Bonn. White wines are Riesling and Muller-Thurgau. Red wines are Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Portugieser

Mittelrhein: From Bonn to Bingen, right along the Rhine. This is a big Riesling region.

Mosel: This famous wine region lies along the Mosel River and its tributaries, joining the Rhine at Koblenz. Another big Riesling area, with some Muller-Thurgau.

Rheingau: This is the heart of the Rhine wine region, from Bacharach to Frankfurt. White Rieslings and red Spatburgunders (Pinot Noir).

Nahe: The Nahe River valley joins the Rhine at Bingen. Only whites, including Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, and Silvaner.

Rheinhessen: From Bingen to Mainz, on the south slopes. More whites. This time, Silvaner and Liebfraumilch.

Rhine River Cruise Vineyards

Muller-Thurgau vineyards on the Main River. By Axel, via Wikimedia Commons

Pfalz: Along the Rhine, south of the Rheinhessen region. (You will be on the Main River by then.) Lots of varietals. Whites include Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Kerner and Scheurebe. Reds include Portugieser and Dornfelder.

Franken: All the way from Aschaffenburg to Bamberg, along the Main River. Mostly Silvaner and Muller-Thurgau whites.

Hessische-Bergstrasse: A small region south of Frankfurt, away from the river. Mostly Riesling and Muller-Thurgau.

Baden: A very large region stretching southwest from Wurzburg. Here you have the Pinot family: Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) whites, and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) reds. This is also big Gewurztraminer white wine country.

Wurttemberg: Another large region, south of and adjacent to Baden. This is the biggest region for reds: Spatburgunder, Trollinger, Schwarzriesling, Portugieser, and Dornfelder. The usual whites would be Riesling and Muller-Thurgau.

Check out the home town vintage as you cruise along. When in Germany, do as the Romans would have done! Prost!