32 German Wines to Buy Now

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For many who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, the first wine they experienced was German. Blue Nun, a mass-produced, sweet white liebfraumilch once dominated American store shelves. As a young adult, the first wine I ever purchased was a Zeller Schwarze Katz—a sweet, cheerful Riesling I bought because of its blue bottle and prominent black cat on the label.

These wines were consistent and easygoing building blocks for the American palate—and huge commercial successes. But with the evolution of taste preferences and the globalization of wine, the glory days of blue nuns and black cats have waned. German wines have increased in quality and the country’s winemakers now produce more diverse wine styles.

As this month’s Buying Guide shows, today’s landscape of German wines is vastly different. First, they’re not all sweet. German wines encompass the noblest classics—the fine, filigreed sweet Rieslings of the Mosel, but also the dry, powerfully structured Rieslings of Pfalz and Nahe. Second, they’re not all Riesling. Germany is the world’s third-largest producer of Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, has historically been so popular in Germany that little of it has made it to the U.S., but it’s now becoming increasingly available. 

This month’s tastings also reflect a surge of high quality wines from Rheinhessen, a region that built its reputation on mass-produced value-priced wines. Increasingly known as a hotbed for young, ambitious wine-makers focused on small-volume, experimental winemaking, Rheinhessen is remaking its image.

Elsewhere in this issue’s Buying Guide, you’ll find reviews of recent releases from Northern Italy, as well as selections from across France and Portugal. In the New World, check out the latest reviews from Chile, California and Oregon. And, as always, be sure to check out our complete database, with thousands more reviews, at buyingguide.winemag.com!

Anna Lee C. Iijima

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32 German Wines to Buy Now

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