A taste of Germany.

Beer and bratwurst are of course an integral part of the country's festivals and public holidays. But they're just one small part of all the pleasures on offer. Take yourself on a culinary tour of discovery through Germany. You'll be amazed at the diversity of delicacies and taste experiences you'll encounter.

The Saarlander is famous for his barbecue skills, and in the summer months the smell of pork steaks being grilled over an open flame – a process known as schwenken – is never far away. You can enjoy the end product of the schwenken at one of the Saarland's traditional festivals – the Saarlouis Emmes, for example, on the first weekend in June.

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A total of 13 wine-growing regions gives Germany its diverse range of wines. The most scenic is the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley, home of the Loreley rock, while Rheinhessen is the largest. Both these regions are set within Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany's number one wine-producing region with a total of six distinct vineyard areas. It is here that the German Wine Queen is crowned at the annual German Grape Harvest Festival. Every year since 1950 these young German women have been selected to represent the nation's wines around the globe for a twelve-month term.

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These large, perfectly rounded potato dumplings have been enjoyed by the people of Thuringia for many generations. Authentic Thuringian kartoffelklösse are unmistakeable, consisting of raw grated potato and cooked mashed potato wrapped around a centre of crunchy croutons. The dumpling factory in Heichelheim has recently opened a dumpling-themed attraction, Thüringer Klosswelt. This fun exhibition on the history of dumplings and potatoes features a factory shop, a dumpling snack bar and even a walk-in dumpling!

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A vine wreath, or rebenkranz , hanging over the entrance to a winegrowing estate is a sign that the winegrower has opened a seasonal wine room, or strausswirtschaft . For four months of the year, he can sell his own wine by the glass. First introduced twelve centuries ago in the time of Charlemagne, this Rhineland-Palatinate tradition is as popular with locals as it is with tourists. In the Moselle area, favourite snacks to go with the wine include buffets and cheese boards as well as classic local fare such as Handkäs mit Musik (small marinated cheeses). Or you can enjoy spundekäs seasoned cream cheese in Rheinhessen or saumagen sausage in the Palatinate.

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Temporary taverns spring up all over the winegrowing regions as soon as the first glass of wine is poured. Winegrowers in Baden-Württemberg open up bars in their vineyards but only for a few weeks in the year. Many of these are simple set-ups in barns, cellars or garages. Old-fashioned broomsticks are decorated and hung outside the main building as a sign that the season has begun and visitors are welcome to stop for a drink. In the Württemberg region, these vintner taverns are called besenwirtschaften (broom inns) or besa . Baden's wineries call them straussen or straussis . Whatever you call them, their atmosphere is hard to beat!

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The weisswurst sausage is one of Bavaria's best-known specialities. It is made of veal and pork and is flavoured with onions and fresh parsley. The sausages, warmed through in hot water, are traditionally eaten in the morning, and are best served with sweet mustard, freshly baked pretzels and Bavarian beer – and best enjoyed in one of Bavaria's many beer gardens, of course. Aficionados suck the meat straight out of its casing. Only the uninitiated use a knife and fork.

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The welfenspeise dessert was first made by a Hanoverian chef for the bicentenary of the House of Guelph's ascension to the throne. Its yellow and white represent the Guelph's family colours. This two-layered dessert of vanilla custard and wine syllabub is said to have been Elector Ernst August's favourite sweet. Today welfenspeise can be found on the menu in many restaurants and is a firm favourite at family celebrations in and around Hannover .

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