Rhenish Hesse

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"Rheinhessen" redirects here. For the wine region, see Rheinhessen (wine region).
Rhenish Hesse (dark red), shown within Rhineland-Palatinate (pale red)

Rhenish Hesse or Rhine-Hesse[1][2] (German: Rheinhessen) is a region in Germany that was once part of the former People's State of Hesse (previously Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt) located west of the Rhine and now part of Rhineland-Palatinate. It is a hilly countryside largely devoted to vineyards, therefore it is also called the "land of the thousand hills." Its larger towns include: Mainz, Worms, Bingen, Alzey, Nieder-Olm and Ingelheim. Many inhabitants commute to work in Mainz, Wiesbaden, or Frankfurt.


Before it was occupied by revolutionary France in 1792, today's Rhenish Hesse had been a patchwork of possessions of the Catholic Archbishopric-Electorate of Mainz and Prince-Bishopric of Worms and the Protestant Electorate of the Palatinate.

At the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse, had to give up his Westphalian territories, but was compensated with the district of Rheinhessen on the left bank of the Rhine. Because of this addition, he amended his title to Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and the name of the region was created.


Dibbehas, caricature by André Gill

Each region has developed its own cuisine dependent on geography, climate, soils, seasons and wealth. These vary from plain home cooking with simple dishes to culinary specialities for festive occasions. Rhenish Hesse also has a large number of specialities, with Weck, Worscht un Woi, not least through the Mainz carnival, has achieved supra-regional fame.

Wine growing[edit]

Vineyards Rheinhessen
Topography and administrative divisions of Rhenish Hesse

Rheinhessen is the largest of 13 regions producing German wine. Outside Germany, it is best known as the home of Liebfraumilch. Most is made from white varieties such as Riesling, Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, and Scheurebe. The best-known white wine area is the Rhine Terrace near Oppenheim and Nierstein. Some red varieties are grown, particularly around Ingelheim and Gundersheim, including Pinot noir, Blauer Portugieser, Dornfelder, and the recently established Regent.


  1. ^ Elkins, T H (1972). Germany (3rd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus, 1972, p. 214. ASIN B0011Z9KJA.
  2. ^ Dickinson, Robert E (1964). Germany: A regional and economic geography (2nd ed.). London: Methuen, p. 542. ASIN B000IOFSEQ.

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