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Viticulture: The 'Nahe-Wine Street'

"Among medicines, wine is the most useful, among foods, the most pleasant" (Plutarch)

Because of its varied soil, fruity, distinctive and elegant wines ripen on the slopes of the Nahe and have contributed to the region being called the "Nahe-Wine Street" (since 1971). It is also called the wine-tasting area of the German wine region. The steep slopes of the region are especially well suited to bringing out the fine quality of the Riesling with its fruity acidity, mostly dry in nature, and of the highest quality. The Müller-Thurgau grape is less demanding to its soil, is less acidic than the Riesling and has a slight aroma of nutmeg. The wines range from strong to powerful in the Lower Nahe area to rather light in the upper Nahe. The Sylvania grape needs richer soil. When grown in the right locations, this variety makes very harmonious wines known and appreciated for their balance and endurance. Besides these "standard" grape sorts, one finds Kerner, Scheurebe, Bacchus, Faber, Ruländer, and white burgundy, as well as increasingly more red wine.

Many hundreds of factors determine the character of a wine. The almost unlimited possibilities of variation and combination make each wine unique. There are around 400 substances responsible for the taste and aroma of a wine. These are mostly higher types of alcohol and their esters, as well as aldehyde. The residual sugar content determines the sweetness of the wine. A wine is called dry when this is not more than 9 grams per litre, the term semi-dry is used for wines up to 18 grams per litre as long as it is acidic enough. The aroma, taste, and quality of a wine depend less upon the individual substances in the wine and more upon how they harmonize with each other. The various nuances of aroma and taste are described with special wine terminology: radiant, solid, robust, elegant, charming, and powerful are just a few examples. In the Hallstattzeit times (800-475 B.C.) Etruscan wine, appropriate drinking equipment and a variety of other Etruscan art material had already reached the Celtic people –especially in the Nahe region- via the long European trading route, in exchange for supplies of raw materials (iron). It is unclear how much wine the Celts grew themselves. For instance, in the small village Auen –above Bad Sobernheim in Soonwald forest- charred remains of Celtic origin were found on a Roman water pipe at an excavation site. The remains contained grape seeds, dating back to about 700 B.C.. The analyses could not answer however if these seeds were seeds from wild grapes or agriculturally grown grapes. Either way the finds seem to support the importance of wine in the Nahe valley.

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