Life is about to get easier for those whose tongues twist when it comes to ordering a bottle of German wine.

Because German wine names can stump even the most knowledgeable consumers, Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer appellation will most likely change to simply ‘Mosel’.

After years of lobbying, the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer growers’ organisation won approval on 9 August for the name change which is expected to be amended to Germany Wine Law on 1 January 2008, and will apply starting with the 2007 vintage.

Pointing to the precedent set by the Rheinpfalz and Suedliche Weinstrasse – which was shortened to ‘Pfalz’ in 1992 – they argued that ‘Mosel-Saar-Ruwer’ was too complicated for the average consumer, and that many people thought it meant that wines labeled ‘M-S-R’ were a three-region blend.

‘Every major German wine region is going by one well-known, comprehensive name,’ said Ansgar Schmitz of the regional wine marketing board.

However, nothing in German wine law is quite so simple. While Saar producers may continue using ‘Saar Riesling’ on their labels – but retain ‘Mosel’ in smaller type – Ruwer producers must use ‘Ruwertal’ (Ruwer Valley), as ‘Ruwer’ is the name of a suburb of the regional capital of Trier.

‘It is always sad to give up something familiar,’ said Saar producer Hanno Zilliken. ‘But people can remember the shorter name more easily.’

Christoph Tyrell of the Ruwer’s Weingut Karthaeuserhof considers the name change unnecessary, and believes the contention that consumers are confused by the M-S-R label is a myth created by the ‘large Mosel-based producers’. According to Tyrell, the appellation has been used for centuries; he feels that a special label or bottle colour would be a better solution.

Written by David Furer