9 good reasons for a wine-tasting session

Culture

The Wurstmarkt, the world's largest wine festival

The Dürkheim Wurstmarkt – literally sausage market – is the world's largest wine festival. Here, wine growers certainly don't skimp on size: Instead of dainty-stemmed wine glasses with just a few inches of red or white, Oktoberfest-inspired servings rule. One of the around 700,000 visitors every year in September, the German Chancellor seems to be having a good time.

Culture

Crowned wine ambassadors

Every year, the various wine-growing regions in Germany elect young women as their new Wine Queens. Until 1999, the queen-to-be had to be unmarried, a rule that has since been nixed. On average, today's wine queens are 25 years old, and candidates must prove they have a "clear and strong association with German wines."

Culture

Europe's steepest vineyard

The Calmont slope on Germany's Moselle River, right by the small town of Bremm, is 300 meters high and, with a gradient of up to 60 percent, it's not for the faint-hearted, or people who suffer from vertigo. Actually, the Calmont is Europe's steepest vineyard.

Culture

Fine wines

From 1945 to 2006, Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned a different artist every year to design labels for his wines. Collectors are keen on bottles with labels by the likes of Picasso, Kandinsky, Warhol and Chagall. In 2006, the above 1945 Mouton Rothschild was sold at an auction for $28,750 (€24,500).

Culture

Sweet and rare - ice wine

Leaving grapes on the wine long after harvest until the first big freeze is a challenge and a risk for every wine grower. The frozen grapes are picked in cold winter nights and pressed immediately, making for a thicker, sweeter and more aromatic wine with a delicate acidity. Popular dessert wines, German ice wines are renowned worldwide.

Culture

Too cold up north

The 52nd parallel is regarded as German winegrowers' "Arctic Circle." The German town of Werder is situated in what is officially the world's northernmost wine-growing region. That hasn't kept a wine grower in Finland from taking a gamble: Warm water from a nuclear power plant's coolant system runs through pipes underneath his small local vineyard, keeping the ground frost-free.

Culture

White or red?

White wine of course – or is it a red wine after all, despite appearances? If it is, it's called a "Blanc de Noir," white wine from a red grape. Remove the skin of the red grape, and you get light-colored juice and pulp. Modeled after French champagne that is often won from Pinot Noir grapes, this wine is low in acidity and quite agreeable.

Culture

Germany's highest vineyards

Germany's southwest is the country's most sun-drenched region. The Baden region is perfect for growing both Riesling and Pinot Noir grapes. At 560 meters, the Hohentwieler Olgaberg may be Germany's highest wine growing region – but a vineyard in Argentine province of Salta easily tops that, with grapes harvested as high up as 3,111 meters of altitude.

Culture

American roots

By around 1850, grape phylloxera, a pest that originated in North America, had arrived in Europe, spreading throughout wine-growing regions everywhere and destroying harvests for decades. The only solution was crossing the more delicate European grapes with American strains resistant to the blight. Et voilà! It was the salvation of European wines, to this very day.

It's grape harvest season! In German vineyards, grapes are picked and pressed while more than 1,000 wine festivals take place in the country's wine-growing regions.