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Trollinger grapes

The Trollinger grape is red German/Italian grape variety, notably grown in northern Italy and areas of Germany and Switzerland.

Normally known as Schiavain Italitan and Vernatsch in Switzerland, it has an old history behind it that makes it one of the popular red grapes in this region.

Originally thought to be grown in Tyrol and Trentino, it is now mostly grown in the Wurttemberg wine region of Germany.

Wine grape varieties

It is also known as Black Hamburg because of its dark shade and confused with the Black Muscat variety that is actually a cross of Trollinger and Muscat of Alexandria.

Characteristically, the grape produces moderately acidic wines that are light bodied, light colored and have fruity strawberry flavours with smoky notes.

In this section, some important facts regarding the origins and viticulture have been listed below.

Origins of Trollinger

The grape’s origins are normally traced to northern Italian provinces. The term Schiava in Italian means ‘slave’ that could indicate its Slavic origins, although this is yet to be fully proved.

However, the grape has been around for a while at least since the 13thcentury as several records suggest its long term association with Trentino-Alto Adige region.

The German work ‘Trollinger’ appears to be a corruption of Tirollinger as many wine historians suggest, indicating its association with Tyrol, although very few vineyards are found there.

Similarly, Vernatch seems to be coming out of the Vernaccia region of Italy, where it shares the same root as ‘vernacular’ or a local grape.

Although Trollinger has been a local grape of the Wurttemberg region, it has gained popularity among the international wine community.

What is definitely known is its old origin. Earliest records of it being cultivated date back to the 14th century, when it is said to have migrated to northern regions of Italy into Germany, where it’s now mostly grown, although its exact origins and specific records suggesting its usage in the ancient world still remains an obscure affair.

Winemaking in Württemberg is an old tradition, dating back to the 8th century, when friars established very first wineries and monasteries in the region.

The Romans, during their rule brought with them winemaking techniques and influenced the locals to cultivate several vines that are not anymore found here.

However, the origin of Trollinger could be traced to ancient times considering the ancient winemaking traditions of northern Italian regions.

Genealogy of Trollinger

In northern Italy and Baden-Wurttemberg, several sub varieties of Trollinger have been identified.

Varieties like Schiava Grossa, Schiava Gentile are some popular Trollinger relatives that are locally produced and consumed.

The SchiavaGrossa is found to produce light bodied and neutral tasting wines while the Schiava Gentile tends to produce more aromatic wines.

One more sub variety, the Tshcaggleis the lowest yielding variety of all these, but produces some of the most popular wines.

Other such several grapes exist that are a cross of Trollinger and varieties like Uva Tosca and Riesling to produce varieties like Kerner originated in 1929 and Crepalocchi.

Wines with Trollinger grapes


Trollinger is a late ripening variety and is harvested pretty late, distant from Riesling. The grape is moderately tannic and mildly acidic, so it produces light bodied, mild fruity wines.

When blended with other wines, the mixture can range from being a sweet beverage with notes of spices, dark chocolate or even tobacco when blended with grapes like other popular varieties like the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.

Oak process is very commonly found in Italian winemaking and helps regulate the acidic and sugar content.

Trollinger’s characteristics also vary according to place and location of cultivation with those grown in Wurttemberg being sweeter than those found around Tyrol or Trentino.

Trollinger wines are very volatile and need to be consumed within a year as they inherit undesirable flavours due to short aging.

Part #5

Pairing up

Trollinger wines are mild and fruity in nature when consumed young. With most German cuisine being on the very lighter side with hardly any utility derived through spices, these wines, thus go the best with mild German dishes as well as light risottos and pastas.

These can also be taken with several cheeses produced in northern Europe or even native Italian cheeses.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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