Saxony Wine - Elbtal
This is a small wine region of
only about 1,000 acres, centred on the Elbe between Meissen and Dresden.
It is a white wine region with the predominant grape varieties being Muller-Thurgau, Riesling and
Pinot Blanc. There has been a good bit of investment in the last 20
years so the Elbtal now produces light, clean wines like those of Austria and Bohemia.
You are unlikely to find these wines overseas so enjoy them during your visit.
The Saxon Wine Road is a useful link but in reality you can visit many local producers and even stay with them so we suggest making your plans in situ.
Bohemia produces white wines from Muller Thurgau, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, plus a little red from Pinot Noir around Melnik along the Lebe. Again, the wines are light and clean, and not really produced for export, so you need so try them here. The Czech Wine Industry has this website for your information.
On your bike trip you may find wines from outside Germany and the Czech Republic on restaurant wine lists and in shops. But if you want to drink German wines you will find:
If you normally only drink dry wine we suggest you take the opportunity to try a sweet or half sweet wine with the food of the region, but if you must have dry then look for "trocken" on the label. Wine is often sold by the glass and is reasonably priced, although as you go down the list of styles above the price goes up.
- Muller Thurgau
- Pinot Blanc (called Weissburgunder in Germany)
- Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
- Pinot Noir (red, but often very pale in Germany, where it is called Spätburgunder)
- QmP; base level quality
- Spätlese; made from fully ripe grapes, dry through to sweetish (generally the lower the alcohol level the sweeter)
- Auslese; as above but more potential alcohol and using the best grape bunches selected from the harvest
- Beerenauslese; high flavour tending towards sweet, grapes individually selected often with botrytis which concentrates the juice and gives a honey flavour to the wine
- Trockenbeerenauslese; as the Beerenauslese but here the grapes are dried/shrivelled on the vine so concentrating the wine even more
- Eiswein; picked on a winter night when the cold has half frozen the grape, it is put in the press that night giving a very high concentration wine full of flavour and very luscious.
Beer is very much part of the culture in the region through which this bike route passes. Beer makes up a major part of the diet of many male Germans and as a result the product does not have the additives you will find in other nations' beer, just hops, malt, yeast and water. You will come across beer brewed in local breweries as well as well-known names from larger regional breweries, and you may also find micro-breweries with their own restaurants. Given the sheer numbers we cannot cover them all, but here are a few travelling north to south:
If none of these breweries is open for visits you will not suffer as the larger breweries' stock is available in most street bars.
Pils, 60% of the market, clean and medium alcohol. Named after Pilsen in the Czech Republic (which you can visit on a train journey from Prague).
Alt, a top fermented beer (old beer) but made into a very bright beer like Pils.
Weissbier, wheat beer, normally cloudy and with perhaps a hint of sweetness, served in a tall, thin glass.
Helles, a more malty version of Pils.
Dunkel, dark beer due to roasted malt. You can have dark wheat beer (Dunkel Weiss, see above).
The Germans like to mix their fizzy drinks and you may see the following on a drinks list:
Radler; a lemonade and beer shandy, so named because it is considered suitable for refreshing cyclists.
Diesel, a 50:50-ish blend of cola and beer.
Apfelschorle; apple juice and sparkling mineral water (great after a hot ride if you want to avoid alcohol).