Germany has given the world some of the best of what the Riesling grape variety can offer. It ranges from bone dry wine to a deliciously sweet fermented juice However, it isn’t all Riesling and it isn’t all white wine either here.

The country has been producing wines as far back as 100 BC, and the vineyards were established by the Romans as they had done in various other European countries. During my study on the wines from this region, I learnt that at one time, the best of German wines commanded a higher price than those of the opulent Bordeaux Chateaux.

While Riesling is largely synonymous with Germany, the producers here make exceptional wines with grape varietals such as Weis Burgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauer Burgunder (Pinot Grigio) and Silvaner too. Germany’s whites win you over with their freshness and purity, a reflection of the climatic conditions in which they are made.

Pinot Noir, locally called Spätburgunder, leads red wine production here, with relatively less famous grape varietals like Dornfelder. It was created by a German grape breeder in 1955. Today, this varietal is most commonly found in the regions of Palatinate and Rheinhessen.

If you like red fruit-driven, lighter style wines, you will enjoy the Pinot Noir from Dornfelder. Some producers age their red wines in oak to offer complexity and weight, which is more to my liking.

Wine producing regions like Rheinghau and Rheinhessen are not too far from Frankfurt (about an hour’s drive to each). These are picturesque landscapes with gentle to steep hills on either side of River Rhine. Drive along the river and you’ll see small, almost medieval villages with castles and monasteries in typical German architecture, pass you by at regular intervals.

Some vineyards around here are on seriously steep slopes. If you had to stand at the base and wanted to look at the top of the hill, you would have to tilt your head all the way backward. Needless to say, working on slopes that are almost perpendicular, such as these, can be back-breaking. Balancing yourself is a task altogether. But as one wine producer had told me, “There is pain in our way of making wine, but when the wine is in the glass the pain becomes worthwhile.”

If you have time, and would like a panoramic view of the vineyards of Rheinghau and Rheinhessen, the river below, and other wine regions in the distance all at once, there is an interesting way to do it. Simply get yourself up to the top of the Niederwald Park (about an hour’s drive from Rheinghau). It is situated near Rüdesheim am Rhein and due to its high terrain, overlooks the green valley of Rhine.

One can easily spend the day here taking in the beauty of small towns and vineyards stretching down to the river below. I was particularly kicked by the idea of walking down a trail from the park that leads to a township at the base of the hill. Here, one must visit wineries, which sit side-by-side of residential properties. Not all wineries are large in scale, but they have equally premium qualities of wine. A number of them are family run.

Wiesbaden too is not very far from Frankfurt (30 minutes by car). In fact, it is perfect as a starting point for your discovery of regional wines on the outskirts of Frankfurt. It is a small town in the centre of the wine producing Frankfurt Rhine Main region, and is en route to both Rheinghau and Rheinhessen. I would recommend spending some time at Spital, a wine bar that is not too far from the vineyards of Wiesbaden. Its central location is ideal to enjoy a glass or two as you watch the locals go about their day.

If you can plan a trip around the Ball des Weines or Ball of Wine, you should not miss the opportunity. This event in Wiesbaden is by far one of the best for wines that I have visited globally. This year, it took place on May 20. Free flowing wine from Germany’s top cult producers, cigars, gourmet food, and live music performances from some of the best in the industry are on offer all night long. This is exactly where one should be for an overview of German wines accompanied by a satiating menu and ballroom dancing. It is best to book a year in advance for nearby accommodation fills up quickly. (Ticket prices start from €198/₹13,929;

About 124km to the south of Wiesbaden is Nahe (90 minutes drive from Frankfurt) and the highly praised wine region of Pfalz. What makes the former an interesting place to visit is that each vineyard here works on a different soil that reflects in the grape grown. Some of the world’s best Rieslings are found here. Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner are other grape varietals of the region. In Pfalz, Müller-Thurgau is more common, as is Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) that make for excellent German reds.

For a two-in-one, castle and winery experience, as well as breathtaking views of the valley, a visit to the historical Schloss Johannisberg castle is an absolute must (a 60-minute drive from Frankfurt). It is in the village of Johannisberg to the west of Wiesbaden, in the Rheinghau region of Germany — also known for its Rieslings.

The wines of the village of Assmannshausen (also a 60-minute drive from Frankfurt) on Rhine River, are another favourite of mine. Visiting some of the wineries that are more than just a few decades old is a real pleasure. Rieslings and Pinot Noirs commonly populate the cellars in this part of the world. There is a glimpse of history in every corner and the bigger wineries are incredibly opulent in design and leave you speechless.

The outskirts of Frankfurt have exceptional wines and stunning landscapes, to say the least. For those visiting the city on business, breaking your journey for a wine tour around the region would definitely be worth your time. I would suggest joining one of the many wine tours that start from Frankfurt; ask your concierge for suggestions.

Nikhil Agarwal