If you know a little German, then you’ll understand the term Schwarzriesling literally translates to “black Riesling”. From there it’s easy to assume that this grape variety is a relative of Germany’s acclaimed Riesling. However, that is not true—Schwarzriesling is in fact Pinot Meunier (best known as one of the three main grapes authorized in Champagne production).
However, in the southern wine regions of Germany (namely Württemberg, Baden, Rheinhessen and Pfalz) the grape is often produced as a varietal wine. I’ve had several opportunities to taste Schwarzriesling, but it was just this past weekend during a visit to Wein & Sektgut Hummel (located in the Kraichgau region of Baden—or say, a 20 minute drive south of Heidelberg) I learned the origin of its name.
When tasting Schwarzriesling two things are quite apparent: 1) it’s a red wine and 2) it’s quite acidic—and it is this naturally high acidity (an attribute that Riesling is well-known for) which only logically lead the locals to consider this red variety as being the “darker Riesling.”
So what does Schwarzriesling taste like? In general, I find it to be on the light side (definately lacking the complexity of its Pinot Noir cousin), but soft on the palate with a rather tart, fruity flavor such as cranberry or sour cherry …and yes, you’ll definately notice a lot of acidity, which may be a bit unexpected for a red wine—hence, the name “black Riesling”.
Source: Bernd Hummel, Owner of Wine & Sektgut Hummel