5 German Wines To Drink Instead Of Beer

Swap your stein for stemware

All month long, we are paying homage to the mighty grape. Grab a glass and join us as we Wine Down.

On the heels of Oktoberfest, the several-weeks-long celebration of all things beer in Munich, there's no better time to be drinking wine—specifically, the many very interesting wines of the central European region, according to Edi Frauneder, chef/co-owner of Edi & the Wolf in New York.   

"These wines are white and dry; they have apple, honey and stone fruit tones," he says. "They lend themselves to be consumed in cooler weather—it creates this beautiful sensation of drinking something full but still feeling lighter. That's why the fall is such a great season for them."

In fact, Frauneder says that even at Oktoberfest, a giant stein of beer is no longer the sole drink option. "There are whole tents dedicated to German bubbly or Riesling. German wine is getting an increasingly better reputation." He adds that German wines are also known to pair exceptionally well with food, as they are more balanced and less concentrated than New World wines (like Napa Cabs).

So this fall, why not ditch the beer stein and grab a nice glass of white instead? Let Frauneder guide you through some of his favorite picks for the season—and the best foods for pairing with them.  

① 2014 Kühling-Gillot Nackenheim Riesling

"You can really taste the terroir in this wine and how well suited it is for this grape varietal. The soil type, which is slate and clay, makes it very mineralic—the soil brings it this incredible flavor and prickliness. It's like the umami of Rieslings."

Pair With: Smoky Tea-Cured Salmon. "Cured fish or meats go nicely with the aromatics and acid in the wine."

② 2015 Weingut von Winning Pfalz Riesling

"Von Winning has been making wines since 1849—so it's a well-established name. This variety is a nice, dry Riesling centered around dried apricots and peaches. It has juicy notes, and some elements of dried herbs and spices as well. This wine is full and very well crafted—at times, it will change people's views when it comes to Riesling."

Pair With: Five-Spice Pork Loin. "You can definitely serve something a bit more robust with this wine. Because of its off-dry state, you can pair it with something aromatic and intense."

③ 2015 Marlies Grossmann Grüner Veltliner

"This wine comes from Lower Austria, near Vienna, where some of the best white wines are created. This grape, Grüner Veltliner, accounts for 25 percent of all wine grown in Austria. This particular variety is very clean with light green apple notes and well balanced in its acidity. It is a really great entry-level wine."

Pair With: Roasted Root Vegetable Potpie. "It's pairing something balanced with a wine that is also very balanced."

④ Rainer Christ (Private Label Freud) Wiener Gemischter Satz

"This is a very cool wine. The style is rare. It's a field wine, which means it combines between six and 13 grape varietals that are harvested and pressed together. This is way more difficult to produce than a cuvée, where the wines are blended independently and then combined. This wine is very expressive, well rounded and medium to full. It has nice floral and stone fruit notes."

Pair With: Wiener Schnitzel (or Pork Schnitzel). "All the elements of schnitzel—the acidity of the potato salad, the slightly sweet lingonberries, the warm breaded crust—go so nicely with the fullness and cleanness of this wine. It's a composed dish that goes well with a composed wine."

⑤ 2013 Erwin Tinhof Blaufränkisch:

"This is an organic, single-varietal wine with structure and depth, and wonderful, full buttery notes. It's made in small batches, so it's not too concentrated—and it has these classic barnyard notes, like hay, on the nose."

Pair With: Classic Ragù alla Bolognese. "The herbaceous notes and buttery texture of the wine lends itself well to fuller, meaty pastas. It has a bright acidity that can cut through more robust, fatty cuts.