Müller-Thurgau: An Underappreciated Gem

Müller-Thurgau might not enjoy the same global acclaim as Riesling or Chardonnay, but this delightful white grape variety, known for its fruity, floral wines, certainly has much to offer. Its accessibility, both in taste and price, along with its flexibility in winemaking, makes it a fascinating grape for both newcomers and seasoned wine enthusiasts.

A Brief History

Müller-Thurgau is a relatively recent addition to the world of viticulture. It was developed in 1882 by Dr. Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau (hence the name), who crossed Riesling with Madeleine Royale. The goal was to create a variety with the complexity and finesse of Riesling, but easier to grow. By the mid-20th century, Müller-Thurgau had become Germany’s most planted grape variety.


In the vineyard, Müller-Thurgau is relatively easy to cultivate. It buds early and is adaptable to various soil types, although it thrives best on hillside vineyards with deep, well-drained soils. The grape has a natural propensity to high yields, which, if not managed, can lead to overproduction and dilution of flavors.

Flavour Profile

Müller-Thurgau wines are known for their light body, moderate acidity, and unmistakable aroma profile. They typically exhibit notes of apple, pear, peach, and apricot, along with floral tones like elderflower. When made in a more off-dry style, notes of sweet spice, honey, and a hint of nuttiness may also come through.

Different Styles of Wine

Müller-Thurgau is incredibly versatile in the winery and can be made into a range of styles, from dry to sweet. The most common style is a medium-dry white wine, known for its freshness and easy-drinking character. However, there are also examples of sweet late-harvest wines and even sparkling versions.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

Winemaking techniques for Müller-Thurgau are generally focused on preserving the grape’s aromatic qualities and freshness. Fermentation usually takes place in stainless steel at low temperatures, followed by early bottling to retain the wine’s fruit-forward nature. However, some winemakers experiment with techniques like skin contact, lees aging, and barrel fermentation to add complexity.

Important Regions

While Müller-Thurgau’s origins are in Germany, where it continues to be widely grown, it has found a second home in Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region, known locally as Müller or Tocai. It is also cultivated in Austria, Hungary, England, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, among others.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Thanks to its bright fruit flavors and moderate acidity, Müller-Thurgau pairs well with a variety of dishes. It’s a classic match for freshwater fish, light poultry dishes, and salads. Its affinity for sweet and sour flavor combinations makes it an excellent partner for Asian cuisine.

Experience the charm of Müller-Thurgau, a wine that beautifully marries accessibility with surprise, and familiar comfort with adventurous delight.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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