Pfalz Food and Wine Tours
Enjoy a peaceful wine escape in rural Germany
Rheinhessen lies on the west bank of the Rhine close to the city of Mainz. For years the region has been at the centre of Germany’s up and coming wine scene. Small country villages are dotted throughout rolling valleys and lush scenery, while picture-perfect landscapes offer foodies the chance to relax and unwind while trying some of Europe’s finest wines. Romanesque architecture in the cities of Mainz and Worms provide plenty of cultural sights to explore, and the surrounding countryside is ideal for scenic strolls as the time melts away.
On the banks of the Rhine, Rheinhessen benefits from a rare combination of dry climate and stony soil, which helps the production of delicious and dry earthy wines. Grapes were first planted here by the Romans, and wine has played a significant role in Rheinhessen culture ever since. It’s become the basis for many of the region’s dishes, including rich stews and casseroles, and there are several rare varieties of grapes to be found here, such as Scheurebe and Huxelrebe.
For white wine, the region has three distinct drinks to choose from. Silvaner boasts fruitful, herby notes and is often used in fish dishes, whilst Müller-Thurgau, one of the most popular wines in the region, offers a sweet fruity flavour with subtle hints of nutmeg. Riesling has been produced in the region since the 15th Century and is mostly found on the steep hillsides beside the rivers. It boasts a flowery aroma and a dry texture.
With Pinot Noir becoming a favourite tipple across the globe, the region is home to many varieties of red wine, such as Spätburgunder and Blanc de Noir. Spätburgunder is a dry wine sometimes used to create a sparkling red. Another popular red grape is Regent, which is a fairly new addition to the grapes of Rheinhessen and boasts a rich dark colouring and intense flavour.
When it comes to food, dishes in Rheinhessen take after the locals’ passion for bold, intense wines. The cuisine here usually consists of game, pork and chicken. One comforting treat is hasenpfeffer, a stew made with hare or rabbit usually cut, peppered and combined into with red wine, fresh rosemary, shallots and red berries for a traditional blend of sweet and savoury. Hasenpfeffer is usually served with a side of potato dumplings or earthy red cabbage.
Backes grumbeere is another dish that hails from Rheinhessen, and has been at the forefront of homemade, wholesome cooking here for over a hundred years. Potatoes are baked together with sour cream, bacon, a thick layer of pork and white wine for a rich, warming plate.
It’s safe to say that a trip to Rheinhessen is a deep dive into the authentic culture or rural Germany. The region is renowned the world over for its wine, and the influence of that famous drink cannot be underestimated. Much of the hearty cuisine here includes local vintages, and the comforting feel of the culinary scene owes a lot to the winemakers who have settled here over the years. Combine all of that with charming cities tucked away from the usual tourist hotspots and hikes traversing scenic rivers and forests, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a tranquil foodie escape.