German Food and Wine Pairings

Posted by Keith Wallace

In today’s interconnected world, gastronomy defies simple categorization. No cuisine can be adequately represented by a mere selection of traditional dishes. Instead, like cultures, culinary practices evolve, continually shaped by emerging trends and innovative ideas. In this article, we are taking a look at modern German food and wine pairings!

Table of Contents

Modern German Cuisine

Germany is no stranger to the modern culinary zeitgeist: healthy food, sustainability, simplicity, and purity of flavors. The Neue Küche, or new cuisine, is spearheaded by a diverse group of chefs from across the globe. As a result, Germany is now home to a dizzying array of Michelin-starred restaurants, second only to France.

Colorful festival with food, drinks, and vibrant decorations.

New Influences

Germany has opened its doors to the world in the past few years. Turkish influence in gastronomy abounds. Every major city has döner kebab stalls, and Italian pizza has grown deep roots in the country. Russian, Bulgarian, and Polish food still permeates, a constant reminder of the Eastern Bloc.

Our German food and wine pairings focus on classic dishes for this article. We will address Modern German food and wine pairings in a future article. You can also check out our food and wine pairing classes as well.

German Food and Wine Pairings

Fish Dishes

Fish like herring and Alaskan pollock abound in the north, around the city of Hamburg. Beer is king in the region, but wine is a fashionable import in these latitudes. If you choose a wine to pair with northern cuisine, select a light white wine with bright acidity and assertive minerality. Champagne, Chablis, or Sancerre are hard to beat, and national dry Rieslings, Chardonnays, or modern crossings like Rivaner (Müller-Thurgau) work well.


We can’t talk about German food without mentioning its sausages. The country produces more than 1,000 styles, consumed at all hours. Colors, sizes, and flavors vary greatly. Bratwurst, currywurst, blutwurst, and weiβwurst differ greatly in name and preparation. Grilled or boiled, made out of pork or veal, sausages are popular as snacks and main meals. Again, beer styles have evolved to pair with local specialties, but a full-bodied white wine or a light red pairs nicely. Consider the cooking method and the accompanying sauces to increase accuracy.

German Food and Wine Pairing (Sausages)
German Food and Wine Pairing (Sausages)

Rheinischer Sauerbraten

The Rheinischer Sauerbraten is a common dish throughout the country. This meat stew consists of veal marinated in vinegar layered with spices and herbs. The mixture cooks slowly and low. The resulting hearty dish is intense, flavorful, and sour. Red wine, especially with high acidity, tackles this local specialty successfully. German red wine is improving every year and is worthy of consideration. The best wine with sauerbraten is often Pinot Noir; it is the most planted red grape and produces light-bodied wines with often-piercing acidity.

German stewed beef meat with red cabbage and potato dumpling, isolated. Sauerbraten

More German Food and Wine Pairings


German and Austrian cooks make Rinderroulade, a rolled veal dish with many variations. They fill it with ground meat, onions, pickles, or vegetables. A rich sauce tenderizes the meat; potatoes or cabbage are served on the side. This dish is bold enough to take a medium-bodied red wine like Merlot or Montepulciano.


Käsespätzle is a starchy dish of Alpine influence. The handmade spätzle pasta, grated with cheese, is unctuous and filling. These dishes, along with others like Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings), pair well with wheat beer or full-bodied, lactic white wines like Burgundy.

Wiener Schnitzel

The wiener schnitzel, a breaded thin pork cutlet, is part of many European cuisines. It is a classic in southern Germany. The tender, comforting dish pairs well with light white wines like Austrian or German Rieslings, Grüner Veltliner, or Pinot Grigio. The dish also works with light-bodied reds like Gamay, Pinot Noir, Schiava, or Dornfelder. Weiβbeer is good too.

Wiener Schnitzel served with baked potatoes, pickled cucumbers and freshly squeezed orange juice

Side Dishes

A typical side dish, applesauce, can add sweetness to the meal, and its tart sweetness might enable off-dry white wines like some Rieslings. Sauerkraut is another typical side dish on the German table. The fermented slaw adds vinegary acidity to any meal, making it compatible with tart wine styles. Malolactic tones developed in sauerkraut can be mirrored in oak-aged whites too.

Pairing German Wines with Cheese

Germany offers a variety of cheeses that pair beautifully with local wines. For a mild cheese like Quark, a crisp Riesling highlights its creamy texture. For stronger cheeses like Limburger, a robust Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) complements the intense flavors, creating a balanced experience.

Regional Specialties and Wine

Different regions in Germany boast unique culinary specialties. In Bavaria, hearty dishes like Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) find harmony with the region’s beer culture, but a bold German red like Dornfelder can stand up to the rich flavors. In the Rhineland, lighter fare such as salads and river fish pair excellently with the region’s celebrated Rieslings.

german food and wine pairing,German Food and Wine Pairing,german food and wine pairing


Germany has built an international reputation for its pastries and luscious desserts. The Schwarzwald torte, or Black Forest cake, is the most popular. The deep flavor of chocolate and the tangy kirsch makes it a good pairing with Port or any other acute sweet wine.

A Final Thought on German Food and Wine Pairings

Germany has lots to offer to the table; its traditional cuisine is rustic and distinct. Weather limits the possible wine styles. This is a lesson on restraint of delicate pairings. German food and wine pairings must be precise and can only be mastered by dedicated Sommeliers with acute, sober, straightforward focus. The results can be as refined as a classic French dinner.

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