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 103,000 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 16,900 vineyards, Germany is, compared with other countries, one of the medium-sized wine-producing nations; in 2019 production stood at 8.3 million hectolitres. Organic wine has a market share of around nine 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. More than 100 types of grape are grown, whereby some 20 are of major significance for the market, primarily the white Riesling and Müller-Thurgau varieties. There is a split of about 66 percent white wine and 34 percent red wine, whereby pinot noir and Dornfelder are the most important varieties of red grape.
Traditions and new habits
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. A notable trend is “craft beers” made by small, independent breweries that tend to involve unusual flavour varieties.
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. Nevertheless, the Corona pandemic has had a huge economic effect on the hospitality industry. Despite extensive state support, the crisis has left many businesses fighting to survive.