Wine Foods in Germany

The Mosel Valley is felt to be one of the most beautiful river valleys in the world. This region, previously called Mosel-Saar-Ruwer in honor of its three rivers, is famous for its Riesling wine. Some of the greatest Rieslings in Germany and in fact in the entire world come from the Mosel Valley. Experts can often identify Mosel Rieslings because of the slate in the local soil, which may impart a taste of flint. The slopes are among the steepest in the wine-producing world, and sometimes attain an unbelievable 70 degrees. The soil is so precious that every spring local workers lug pails of soil up these steep slopes, temporarily reversing the effect of the rains that wash the soil down every winter.

Mosel ranks number five among the thirteen German wine regions when it comes to both vineyard acreage and total wine production. Slightly over three quarters of the regional wine is classified as QbA and somewhat less than one quarter is higher quality QmP wine. Only one percent is table wine. Over half of Mosel wine is Riesling. The German hybrid white grape variety Mueller-Thurgau represents about 20% of the wine production. In third place is the historic Elbing that dates back to Roman times. Only about 2% of Mosel wine is red.

The Mosel Valley pretty well stretches from Koblenz which isn't far from Germany's former capital Bonn to the city of Trier sitting very close to the border with Luxemburg. These two fine cities are linked by the Mosel Weinstrasse (Mosel Wine Road) which is approximately 140 miles (224 kilometers) long on the eastern side of the river and somewhat less on the western side. Of course, you could take the autobahn to travel between Koblenz and Trier at breakneck speed. If you do, you'll miss the interesting little towns and vineyards along the way.

Cochem lies about one third of the way from Koblenz to Trier. It's a fine little Mosel River Valley town. This medieval town is long and narrow. You should take a boat trip as well as a walking tour. Outside the town gate is the Kaiser Wilhelm railway tunnel, which at 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) is the longest in all Germany. After about a fifteen minute walk you will reach the Reichsburg (Imperial Fortress), a thousand year old castle that overlooks Cochem. The castle hosts a medieval banquet which features period costumes and music on Fridays and Saturdays but you must reserve in advance. North of the city is a larger castle, the Burg Eltz a few miles inland from the Mosel.

Before reviewing the Mosel wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Aalsuppe (Eel Soup). For your second course enjoy Rolladen (Beef rolls with Bacon and Pickles). As a dessert indulge yourself with Moselweintorte (Chocolate and Wine Cake).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Moselland Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay 2005 9.5% alcohol about $8.50

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Pale straw yellow colour; citrus, mineral and dried apricot aromas and flavours; balanced with crisp acidity in the finish. Serving Suggestion: Serve chilled with pork, turkey or appetizers. Spicy asian dishes.

My first pairing was with a homemade pizza with lots of tomato sauce, vegetables, and cheese but no meat. This wine displayed refreshing acidity that worked well with the pizza sauce. It had good fruit and was surprisingly long.

The next meal included a barbecued chicken marinated in a commercial Mediterranean-style light sauce, red-skinned potatoes, and a somewhat spicy Turkish salad. The wine's acidity cut the fat very well and yet complemented the tomato's own acidity which largely defined the salad. This little and lightly alcoholic wine (9.5% when 13% plus seems to be the new norm) was quite assertive, especially with the potatoes. And yet it was somewhat flat with dessert, some orange fruit-juice candy.

The final meal was whole-wheat pasta in a sauce that started out with your basic commercial pasta sauce. I livened it up with a fried medley of garlic, red onions, red and green peppers, topped with anchovies and shredded (local) Asiago cheese. The wine was light and fruity and the combination was quite tasty. I was happy that this Riesling was low-alcohol (and inexpensive) so that I could drink quite a bit without any negative effects, including to my pocketbook.

The initial cheese pairing was with a mild Italian Pecorino Fruilano. The wine was sweet but didn't impress me very much. Then I paired it with a nutty Dutch Edam cheese. Once again the wine was sweet but it was round and the combination went quite well.

Final verdict. Great bargain. The wine really goes well with simple food. I didn't get a chance to try it with gourmet specialties but wouldn't be surprised if it did as well as many wines including Rieslings at twice the price. If I weren't saddled with so many wines to taste (talk about problems) I'd buy half a case and drink one every two months or so. Then I'd try one from the next vintage and hope to repeat the process.

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