Since the beginning of the millennium, German wine has seen a veritable renaissance internationally, which has much to do with the term “Riesling miracle” and is to a large extent embodied by a young generation of vintners who focus more on high quality than high profits. The long growing season and comparatively low summer heat ensure German wines are refined and do not have a high alcohol content.
German wines are grown in 13 areas in which, across a gross area of around 102,000 hectares, a large variety of wines typical of each particular region are produced. Given the amount of land used, and a grand total of about 80,000 vineyards, Germany is, compared with other countries, one of the medium-sized wine-producing nations; in 2014 production stood at 9.5 million hectolitres. Organic wine has a market share of between four and five percent. The German wine growing areas are some of the most northerly in the world. Apart from Saxony and Saale-Unstrut they are primarily located in the south and southwest of the country. The three biggest growing areas are Rhinehessen, the Palatinate, and Baden. Almost 140 types of grape are grown, whereby some two dozen are of major significance for the market, primarily the white Riesling and Müller-Thurgau varieties. There is a split of about 65 percent white wine and 35 percent red wine, whereby pinot noir and Dornfelder are the most important varieties of red grape.
Germany is also a beer-loving country. German beer is appreciated primarily on account of what is in some cases a centuries-old brewing tradition practised by small family and monastery breweries. The Beer Purity Law of 1516, the world’s oldest food law, applies to all German beers without exception. It states that apart from water, hops, and barley, no other ingredients may be used. Between 5,000 and 6,000 sorts of beer are produced in Germany, most of them are Pilsner beers; overall, however, consumption is falling.
There is no clear picture for eating habits in Germany. On the one hand, many consumers are becoming increasingly health and fitness-conscious, and are opting for balanced nutritional concepts. On the other, megatrends such as mobility and the ever greater number of different personal lifestyles are clearly influencing eating and drinking habits.
The German restaurant scene is as vibrant as it is diverse – and is one of the best in Europe. Alongside top-class, fusion cuisine, and chefs increasingly catering to vegetarian and vegan dishes; old vegetable varieties such as parsnip, turnip, and Jerusalem artichoke are enjoying a renaissance. They are the pillars of the current boom in all things healthy, seasonal, regional, and the taste of home regions. A young generation of chefs is reinterpreting classic dishes and spicing them up with global influences.