Exploring the Best Food and Wine Experiences in Germany's Rheingau Region
All within reach by an hour’s train ride west of Frankfurt along the Rhine River, Germany's Rheingau is a patchwork of historic villages, vibrant cities, and the country's most distinctive riesling wine-growing region.
Gateway city Wiesbaden serves as cultural and transportation hub to the Rheingau. Even if you're exploring by foot, the 200 mile Rheinsteig hiking trail begins next to the Baroque palace of Schloss Biebrich on the banks of the Rhine and meanders past numerous vineyards, palaces, castles, and monasteries along its way to Bonn. While hiking the Rheinsteig is of course perhaps the most arduous approach to exploring the region, your intrepid spirit will be rewarded by a richer, more personal connection to the landscape and people around you. Grape picking season in autumn offers more in-depth exposure to vintners when they open their doors for tastings and festivals.
When you're in town craving a sweet treat, Café Maldaner preserves the traditional coffee house ambiance that originated here in 1859. Plush sofas and chairs overlooking the wide variety of artfully prepared treats on display behind the glass of their impressive cake counter make you want to linger and get social. If you're in town Wednesday or Saturday, an open-air market on Dern’sches Gelände square features a wide array of fresh produce and handcrafted specialties.
A historic village featuring medieval architecture built into a hillside, Rüdesheim offers plenty to explore within its compact street grid. Drosselgasse serves as the main thoroughfare flanking the river on one side, with boutique shopping, eateries, wine taverns, and beer gardens on the other connecting to narrow lanes that trail off to vineyards rising up in the distance.
The hotel Altdeutsche Weinstube, run for five generations by the Ehrhard-Malgouyres family, is only a block away from the Drosselgasse, with a wide selection of rooms to pick from. Wrought-iron ornamentations and leaded stained glass windows invite you to gather in their onsite Weinstube (or “wine tavern”), where a French chef de cuisine creates regional and French delicacies with in-season, market-fresh ingredients like Ingelheimer asparagus during summer, chanterelles and different pumpkin dishes in autumn as well as roast duck and goose during winter. Wines on their list feature vintages from their family owned Carl Ehrhard wine growing estate.
Another dining option for authentic German favorites and biodynamic wines is right up the street at Weingut Jakob Christ. Chef Dagmar and her winemaker husband Rainer Hass combine assets, conjuring seasonal creations from local ingredients from the greens in their salads to the pork in their bratwurst pâté, sausages, brook trout, and Hessian goat and sheep cheese specialties. Their vegan organic wine selection draws from off-the-radar Rheingau grapes reflecting subtleties of the region's ever changing climate. Rainer believes that climate change is now impacting flavor profiles much more than other terroir attributes like soil and vine age.