Question for Terry: What is the history of RS in german wines?

If I went back 200 years and toured the mosel would I be finding alot of wines with RS? I saw you mention in your newsletter that wines with RS largely date from the 50s because of winemaking advances allowed the producers to do this. But to what degree were there (non-dessert) wines with noticable SOS before that time?


The wines used to be drier in general, but they also were fermented spontaneously and without temperature control, for the most part in old neutral wood, and aged a couple years before they were bottled. So we’re dealing with a much “softer” creature than most of today’s dry German Rieslings, and one that went into the bottle already showing tertiary characteristics. But even then, there were casks that didn’t ferment all the way, and very often these were the most prized by grower and buyer alike. An old saying had it, “The best casks are closest to the door,” i.e., in the coldest part of the cellar, where the odds were highest the wine would have RS.

Of course in the excellent and great vintages a large number of “sweet” wines were made, and this type of wine came to be identified as the marker of a grand vintage.

Thanks Terry

Was this because of additional sugar in the must?

Yes, because these musts were so concentrated that they often wouldn’t ferment all the way. Especially with (nodding towards another thread) ambient yeasts.

I wonder if the “tradionally” made troken wines also went through ML which would soften them further.

This thread makes me wonder if there are any old school producers who still make traditional troken wines (aged in large barrels for a few years before bottling).

Thanks for the great answers. Im enjoying this oppurtunity.


Were these sweet wines tied to the Holidays, Christmas specifically?



Not particularly, Marty.

I’ve been told that malo was not at all uncommon for Rieslings of 75-100 years ago, which is another argument against insisting they be dry when vinified in the manner of today.

There are still some old-school growers, such as Koehler-Ruprecht, Werlé and (I think still) Achim Magin, the latter two in Forst. They make mostly dry wines, and often keep them in cask for several years.

Very interesting, thank you.

Also please be aware that when I see your name on a bottle, it is a guarantee of quality to me. We have been enjoying your selections for years and really appreciate your had work!