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All About Muller Thurgau

The Germans are a beer-swilling bunch, consuming 110 liters per capita each year. This stereotype of Germans as beer drinkers often overshadows their fantastic wine-making culture and one-of-a-kind varieties. While red wines are popular in some areas of the country, Germany produces 65 percent of white wines thanks to a colder climate. With lower temperatures, they can produce fruitier and more acidic wine that's prone to superb aging. However, there's probably no bigger star than Muller-Thurgau.

Created in 1882 by Herman Muller of Thurgau, Switzerland, Muller-Thurgau grapes are a hybrid between Riesling and Madeleine Royale grapes. They're also the most common of scientifically engineered grapes, covering over 104,000 acres worldwide, with a third of those in Germany. This makes Muller-Thurgau the second-most-planted grape in Germany, with other vineyards found in New Zealand, Australia, eastern Europe and Japan.

If you're a lover of sweet wines such as Moscato or Riesling, a Muller-Thurgau could become your new favorite. It's lighter and more subtle than either of these wines while also offering a little less bite and acidity. Dry versions of Muller-Thurgau, also known as Rivaner, are widely available within Germany — but rarely outside the country.

Both wines offer a floral aroma that opens up to tastes of peach, apple, ginger and rhubarb with a nutty finish reminiscent of nutmeg or walnut. Well-balanced and medium-bodied, it works well with food, by itself or as an after-dinner treat. Because of its versatility, it's often branded as Germany's everyday wine, which is a mighty statement in a country dominated by beers.

The younger the Muller-Thurgau wine, the better, as it tends to reach the height of its flavor in early maturity. Some bottles are meant to be aged, but the flavors are less bold and pronounced. Because of its medium acidity, Muller-Thurgau is a great pairing with lighter items such as fish, shellfish, octopus and poultry.