Why do German Wines Have a Bad Rap?

When most people hear German wine, the first thing that comes to mind is a Riesling. The second thing that comes to mind is “meh… let’s try something else.” Why do German wines have such a bad rap? I’ve asked myself this many times and I think it’s because historically Germans have produced primarily sweet wines which are not to many people’s liking.

why do german wines have a bad rap

However, Germany is one of the top wine producers in the world! According to germanwineusa.com, “Germany is the home of the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir, after France and the U.S., and Pinot Gris, after Italy and the U.S. As dry wines have surged in popularity in Germany, acreage of Pinot Gris, also known as Grauburgunder, has expanded as well – there are currently over 4,800 hectares under vine.

rare_dirndl_german_wine3

The wide range of grape varieties cultivated in Germany is impressive, from  Albalonga to Zweigeltrebe. Data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Statistics lists some 140 grape varieties grown in Germany!

rare_dirndl_german_wine2

Riesling and Müller-Thurgau, which account for some 35.4% of Germany’s 102,000 hectares of vineyards, have the most commercial importance. Over 11% of the vineyard area is planted with Spätburgunder, or Pinot Noir, making it the most important red wine grape in Germany.”

So if Germany has such a knack for growing grapes and making & exporting wines, why do we still not love German wines? The following info is from Wine Enthusiast Magazine which describes the “classic” German wine styles… and you’ll notice that they all have something in common, the word sweet.

Kabinett
The least ripe of the prädikat levels, and typically the lightest of a grower’s offerings. With their low alcohol levels and touch of sweetness, these wines make ideal picnic quaffs and mouth-watering apéritifs. Most often consumed in their youth, they can last for ten years or more.

Spätlese
Literally, “late picked.” These grapes are generally only late-picked with respect to those grapes that go into Kabinett or QbA wines. If vinified dry (an increasingly popular style), they can still seem less than optimally ripe. Traditionally made, with some residual sugar left in, they are extremely food friendly. Try them with anything from Asian food to baked ham and roast fowl. Most should be consumed before age twenty.

Auslese
Made from select bunches of grapes left on the vine until they achieve high sugar readings, these wines often carry a hint or more of botrytis. While some are sweet enough to serve with simple fruit desserts, others are best sipped alone. With age, some of the sugar seems to melt away, yielding wines that can ably partner with roast pork or goose. Thirty-year-old auslesen can smell heavenly, but sometimes fall flat on the palate. Enjoy them on release for their luscious sweet fruit, or cellar for ten to twenty years.

Beerenauslese
“Berry select” wines are harvested berry by berry, taking only botrytis-affected fruit. While auslesen are usually sweet, this level of ripeness elevates the wine to the dessert-only category. Hold up to fifty years.

Trockenbeerenauslese
These “dried berry select” wines are made from individually harvested, shriveled grapes that have been heavily affected by botrytis. Profoundly sweet and honeyed, their over-the-top viscosity and sweetness can turn off some tasters, while others revel in the complex aromas and flavors.

Eiswein
Made from frozen grapes that are at least equivalent in sugar levels to beerenauslese, but which produce wines with much racier levels of acidity. The intense sugars and acids enable these wines to easily endure for decades.

If these styles are what you think of when you think of German wines, and you don’t have a sweet tooth, then your first thought about classic German wines would be… yuck! 

Weinarten, Weißwein

Weinarten, Weißwein

But Germans can make some pretty delicious dry wines as well! Although Sauvignon Blanc is associated with the south of France, there are now some 600 hectacres of Sauvignon Blanc vines in Germany, primarily in the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, and Baden. To the surprise of some, a number of these wines have received high marks at international tastings in recent years. Also, a relative newcomer, bred in 1955, Dornfelder is already considered a German red wine classic and has been in great demand for years.*

So, let’s drop our preconceived notions about German wines and try some new styles and modern German wine brands! What are your favorite German Wines? Do you feel like German wines get a bad rap, or do you feel like German wines are indeed not worth drinking? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Sources: *http://www.germanwineusa.com/press-trade/german-grape-varieties.html
http://www.winemag.com/germany/

Not All German Food is Heavy – Fresh Cucumber Salad & Soup – Quick German Recipes

cucmber salad - cucumber soup

Most people associate German food with starchy potatoes, heavy gravy and lots of meat, but there are great German recipes that are perfect for summer, like Cucumber Soup and Cucumber Salad. My cooking skills are not the greatest, but I can make a mean Gurkensalat! And soon, I’ll have to give the Kalte Gurkensuppe recipe a try. The following recipes are from Quick German Recipes.com authored by Oma Gerhild. Be sure to follow Oma Gerhild and Quick German Recipes on Facebook for more recipes, suggestions, cooking tips and fun German things. She’s simply fabulous!

Chilled Cucumber Soup Recipe

cold cucumber soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 English cucumbers (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (preferably light)
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt, freshly ground pepper, dill

Instructions:

  • Cut off about ¼ of one of the cucumber and set it aside to use for garnishing.
  • Coarse chop the remaining cucumbers and put into blender. Add olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice, and sugar. Blend on high until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water to get the proper consistency.
  • Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and dill.
  • Dice reserved cucumber and use as a garnish.
  • Makes 4 servings

German Cucumber Salad Recipe

German Cucumber Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp dill, preferably fresh (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Put thinly sliced cucumbers into serving bowl.
  • In separate bowl, mix sour cream, dill, lemon juice, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Just before serving, pour dressing over cucumbers and mix.
  • Serves 4.

Hints:

  • If you have time, you can pre-slice the cucumbers and sprinkle them with a little salt and let them stand. Pour off the accumulated cucumber “water” BEFORE adding the dressing.
  • Use vinegar instead of lemon juice.
  • Use low fat sour cream or plain yogurt instead of the regular sour cream.

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Schmarre, breakfast of German Champions – Kaiserschmarrn Recipe

Little Dirndl

Me and Nikki 1990

I’m going to start this blog with a quick story about my bff Nikki. Rewind approx 24 years to when she was in kindergarden and each student had to tell the class what they had for breakfast. It was Nikki’s turn. “Nikki, what did you have for breakfast?” “Schmarre!” she said with a big smile. “What did you eat?” “Schmarre!” “What?” (teacher very confused) “SCHMARRE!” (wondering why the teacher can’t understand/ hear what she’s saying) “Ok… great! Billy what did you have” (teacher quickly moving on…)

That afternoon when Nikki’s mom came to pick her up she asked the teacher, “How was everything today?” the teacher replied, “Great, except Nikki said she ate something very strange for breakfast.” “Oooooooooo…. Ya…… we had schmarre,” “That’s exactly what she said! What the heck is it?!?!”

2009 Detroit Trachtenfest-004

Nikki, Myself and my sister Monika 2009

This is one of favorite stories! But had I had to tell my teacher that I had Kaiserschmarrn for breakfast, I would have pronounced it completely different, like how my Oma used to. More like, Schmorrn. Anyway you say it, it’s delicious. Whether you put raisins and cinnamon, powdered sugar and nuts, or like my mom prefers it, with salt… it’s always a tasty treat. Here is a simple recipe from Quick German Recipies.com

Schmarrn” is a 16th century German word meaning “to smear” or “to pain”. The sweet version of this German pancake recipe is called “Kaiserschmarrn” (Kaiser’s). There’s one made with bread called “Semmelschmarrn” and one with Cream of Wheat called “Grießchmarrn“. Being German, of course there’s one made with potatoes called “Kartoffelschmarrn“.

German Torn Pancakes aka Kaiserschmarrn

Rare Dirndl KaiserschmarrnIngredients:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 oz raisins
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • icing sugar to sprinkle over

Instructions:

  • Mix together egg yolks, flour, milk, salt, baking powder and sugar till well mixed. Let batter stand for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff.
  • Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  • Gently fold in raisins.
  • In frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Pour in batter and fry until cooked on bottom.
  • Flip pancake, adding 2 tbsp butter, and continue to cook on other side until crispy.
  • Using two forks, tear pancake into pieces and continue cooking briefly.
  • Serve, dusted with icing sugar. Tastes great served with fruit or fruit sauce.

http://www.quick-german-recipes.com/kaiserschmarrn.html

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People and Things We Love: SCHNITZels n’ GIGGLES

Today’s People and Things We Love feature is the Graf family and their awesome food truck SCHNITZels & GIGGLES! schnitzels & giggles3 Schnitzel on a StickI first met the Graf family at German Fest Milwaukee in 2014 and they are simply the most friendly family and they have delicious food to boot! They travel around the country selling their homemade food like Potato Pancakes, Sausages, French Fries and of course, their staple… the Schnitzel on a Stick! All sh**ts and giggles aside, their food is the real deal. One of the most delicious schnitzels I have ever eaten came from their food truck. Here is a little bit more about the family and their yummy business!

Robert and Alexandra Graf’s new adventure started in 2010 while they still owned the Award winning German Restaurant ALPHORN BISTRO at the Inn at Danbury, which they lost due to the recession in 2011. You may have seen them in the Graf-Medici episode of ABC’s reality show “Wife Swap” which still airs from time to time on Lifetime TV. schnitzels & gigglesThe Vision for a Mobile German Food Concession sprang from the imagination of Chef Robert Graf when he took his family to a fair in 2009 in New Hampshire. He and his wife Alexandra launched SCHNITZels & GIGGLES as a way to help publicize the Inn at Danbury and bring in a few extra guests. Serving our fresh, homemade German Street Food in the concession trailer is similar in concept to that of the former Alphorn Bistro. The food we serve in the mobile German Food concession trailer is fun and great for a fast snack. Our “Schnitzel on a Stick” is the featured item and Street Food you won’t see this unique anywhere else in the USA or in Germany or Austria! Other menu offerings consist of: Homemade Bratwurst, Knackwurst, Potato Pancakes, Pommes Frites, Sauerkraut, Braised Red Cabbage, and at times a special menu item such as Jäger Schnitzel or a Sauerbraten Sandwich will be offered at a venue. As you can see by the schedule they offer their Award Winning German Street Food from the East to the West Coast and many places in between at Air Shows, Fairs, Festivals, Art Shows, Bike Weeks, and Balloon Festivals. They are most wanted at Oktoberfest celebrations all over the USA. Their awards include: Blue Ribbon for Best Fair Food at their first fair, The Cheshire Fair, NH in 2010. Best German Fair Food from the editors of NH Magazine 2011. Red Ribbon for Best Looking Concessionaire at the Bolton Fair, MA in 2011. Red Ribbon for best food at the Barnstable County Fair, MA in 2011. Yellow ribbon for being best concessionaire at the 4county fair, CT in 2011. They have also had numerous write ups in magazines and newspapers on the East Coast.

We LOVE Bob, Alex, Meagan, and Daphne and can’t wait to see them again this year at German Fest Milwaukee. I also love that Meagan often wears her Weltmeister Dirndl while she works! schnitzels & giggles Check out their event schedule and be sure to find them at the upcoming festivals because their German style street food is too delicious to miss! Be sure to follow the Graf family adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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How to Make Dumplings – Quick German Recipes.com

Oma Gerhild

Oma Gerhild

German Dumplings are one of my favorite things to eat. I’ve never met a Knödel I didn’t like. From Semmel to Potato, Zwetschgen to Liver… I seriously love them all and today I’m sharing an article by Oma Gerhild author of Quick German Recipes.com about how to make dumplings. I am going to have to give this a try this week! Also be sure to follow Oma Gerhild and Quick German Recipes on Facebook for more recipes, suggestions, cooking tips and fun german things! She’s simply fabulous! https://www.facebook.com/QuickGermanRecipesHow to make Dumplings


 How to Make Dumplings

Want to learn how to make dumplings (“Klöße und Knödel“) including the famous and very traditional potato dumplings? You’ll find various recipes for those, plus some VERY strange ones in the list below as well.

German Potato Dumplings with turkey

My very favorite ones are theThüringer Klösse. These are not only time consuming to make, but also quite a bit of work. Easier are thepotato dumplings made from cooked potatoes. Served with my rouladen alternative, flatladen, and sweet and sour red cabbage — this is a favorite meal at our house. These dumplings were one of my Mutti’s favourite’s as well, because they were so quick to make. Of course, the homemade croutons in the middle add the extra touch of “delicious-ness”.

How to make Dumplings …

If you want to try something a bit different, there are the traditional bread dumplingsGerman bread dumplings that are so common in the Bavarian area of Germany.

It has an interesting method of making dumplings using leftover bread. The results are delicious. Great “soaker-uppers” of gravy!

These bread dumplings were something I discovered on my first trip back to Germany after having left as a little girl. For me, dumplings ALWAYS meant potatoes. And, I really, really enjoyed my potato ones. It really took a step of faith to try these made with bread. Guess what? I got hooked! What a fabulous way to use up stale buns and bread. The only requirement was that one needs to have gravy 🙂 Something I’ve learned when making dumplings, especially if you don’t make them too often, is to make a “trial” one first.

TIP FROM OMA!

Make a Trial Dumpling First!

When I first started, and not knowing for sure if the dough would hold together, I’d just make all the dumplings at once and put them in the pot of gently boiling water. After my first flop when they all fell apart, I learned to always try one dumpling first. If it held together, I’d form the rest and cook them then.

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True Facts about Sauerkraut

  • Sauerkraut originated approximately 2,000 years ago in China, where it is known as suan cai, with a literal translation of “sour vegetable”.
  • It wasn’t until 1,000 years later that Genghis Khan plundered China and brought back this recipe for naturally fermented cabbage.
  • The Germans, who gave it the name “sauerkraut”, learned to make this dish from their native European cabbage, giving us sauerkraut as we know it today.
  • In World War I and II, the slang word “kraut” was used to refer to sailors and ultimately all German soldiers because of a long history of German ships being outfitted with sauerkraut as part of daily food rations to prevent the onset of scurvy.

  • Sauerkraut has been used in Europe for centuries to treat stomach ulcers, and its effectiveness for soothing the digestive tract has been well established by numerous studies.
  • According to Per Pickle Packers International, Americans consume 387 million pounds of sauerkraut annually, or about 1.25 pounds per person.
  • Most people immediately think to buy their sauerkraut in a jar, but for the most basic sauerkraut, all your need to make your own sauerkraut is 1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds) and 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation.
  • Lactobacillus is a type of beneficial bacteria present on the surface of the cabbage, which is the same bacteria found in yogurt.
  • When submerged in a brine, the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid; this is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Plain sauerkraut is (to most people) not very tasty, but if you doctor it up with bacon, onions and some wine, it is delicious!
  • Plain sauerkraut is fat free!
  • There are hundreds of ways to use sauerkraut, but our favorite is the ruben sandwich and sauerkraut soup!
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Mader’s German Restaurant: Famous for the Food?!

Last year, my mom told some people from work that she was going to Milwaukee for German Fest and she said that at least 7 people asked her if she was going to Mader’s? “It’s a famous German restaurant!” So we thought, huh… we should go! On Friday evening, my mom and I headed out to Milwaukee for an event on Saturday at the Mitchell Park Domes, Germany Under Glass, but first, dinner at Mader’s Restaurant.

Our Server, Krystal

When we first walked in, the staff was very polite and sat us in a booth by the bar. My first thought was wow! The decor was very Old World German. Not beer garden-y, not old-german man-y, not oma-y but like 16th century German monk style. It was very impressive, but the intense decor didn’t take away from the warmth. I felt welcome and comfortable.

I loved that the servers wore dirndls! It looked like they all wore their own and they were all classic and traditional style dirndls. Our server Krystal was great! She was super sweet and I later found out on Saturday that she had asked someone to get some Rare Dirndl information for her because she wants a dirndl!

The 3rd thing I noticed (1st being the decor and 2nd the dirndls) was this table stand advertising their specials… using the font Papyrus… this font needs to die. I loathe this font. Ok, moving on to the good stuff.

The menu was difficult to read because it was full of pictures of all the famous people that have eaten there. While it was cool to see who all has been there, I was really more interested in what I was going to eat.

But first… beer! I order a Weihenstephaner Vitus, a weissbock that is one of my favorites and my mom ordered, (uh… i don’t remember, oops!) Anywhoo, they were both served in their 110th anniversary steins, which was kinda cool, but very heavy.

Ruben Rolls

Looking over the menu, there was 1 thing I noticed right off the bat; the entrees were expensive. Not outrageous, but definitely more than I’m used to paying for German classics like schnitzel. We started with the Ruben Rolls, because when I called to make the reservation that’s what the recording recommended, and it was a great recommendation. It was essentially a Ruben inside an egg roll served with Dusseldorf mustard and boy were they tasty.

And then there was the complimentary pretzel roll. I will go back for that roll. It was fresh out of the oven, soft yet crispy, not too salty. (I may or may not be drooling on my keyboard just thinking about it.)

The best thing we ate all night!

Unfortunately that’s where the salivating stops because the rest of our meal was… meh. I was so put off by the $30+ for all the German favorites that I ordered one of the “Kleinen Platten”(small plates) of Vegetarian Spaetzle, a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts and the Friday Night Fish Fry Special with potato pancakes and sauerkraut. The Spaeztle was some veggies and Spaetzle in a bland Alfredo sauce, the fish was so thin we could barely find it amongst the breading, the potato pancakes were kinda sweet and fluffy, (like a breakfast pancake) and the sauerkraut was so sour! But, the brussel sprouts were really good and fresh.


For dessert, I had to try one of their after dinner drinks, the “Pink Squirrel: a forgotten Milwaukee favorite” It was ice cream mixed with some alcohol and raspberry something… that was a tasty treat!

Overall, I feel like I jipped myself because I didn’t get any of the German food because the prices got me all nervous. I would go back again to try some actual German favorites and for the pretzel roll, but I honestly have no idea why people were so insistent that we go there. Just because Usher, William Shatner, Clark Gabel and Tim McGraw ate there?

What do you think? Did I miss something? I’ll be back in Milwaukee again soon, what should I try there that you think is better then the alfredo spaetzle concoction and the heavy duty fish fry?

P.S. The suit of armor in the window was really cool too. Seriously, the decor was fantastic!

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