As we are still in the progress of translating the pages to German, not all pages are in German if you chose the German version. 

Understanding German Wines

June 21, 2018

Understanding German Wines

As mentioned in the 'German Wine Region' blog, it was the Romans that started the production of wine in Germany.

 

The wines have had their ups and downs over the years, especially in the 1970s and 1980s the German wineries lost sight of the taste of the wine itself, which made the wine sale decrease. It also gave the German wine a bad reputation, which some people still believe.

 

However, today's wineries have understood that the taste and the quality of the wine are important. Also, the dryness of the wines in Germany has increased in the wines, which means a higher level of alcohol, which many wine drinkers around the world appreciate - compared to the very sweet wines like Piesporter that was one of the wines that gave the German wine a bad reputation.

 

Today there are really strict wine laws in Germany. Especially towards what is supposed to be mentioned on the label, which makes them some of the world's most confusing labels. Here is a guide to the German wine label.

 

On the label, the producer and the year will be mentioned. But furthermore, you should look at the quality level, the grape variety, and the wine region.

 

Quality: There are different quality levels in German. Deutscher Wein, Landwein, QbA, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, BA and TBA.

 

Grape Variety: Most German wines are made from single grape varieties, which is specified on the label. These could be: Riesling, Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner), Spätburgunder, Dornfelder, Silvaner, Portugieser, Grauburgunder, Weißburgunder and so on.

 

Wine Regions: The wine region should be mentioned on the label. Such as: Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hessische Bergstrasse, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen and Württemberg.

  

Then you will often see if the wine has received any prices, such as Gold, Silver or Bronze. Also if they have some certificates, it will also be shown on the wine.

 

Here are some more terms that you might find on the wine label.

 

Auslese: meaning 'select harvest'
it means that the wine is made from very ripe, hand selected bunches, typically semi-sweet or sweet. Auslese is the Prädikat which covers the widest range of wine styles.

 

Beerenauslese (BA): meaning 'select berry harvest'
the wine is made from overripe grapes individually selected from bunches and often affected by noble rot, making rich sweet dessert wine.

 

Classic:
it was introduced with the 2000 vintage. It is in principle a dry or slightly off-dry Qualitätswein that conforms to slightly higher standards intended to make it food-friendly. It must be made from varieties considered classical in its wine region. It must have an alcohol level at minimum 12% - except Mosel, where it is 11.5%. Then the maximum sugar level is twice the acid level, but no more than 15 g/l.

 

Deutscher Wein: formerly known as Tafelwein
It is the most basic sort of German wine - it constitutes less than 5% of an average crop. It is not high-quality wine.

 

Eiswein: 'ice wine'
It is not so common in Germany anymore. It is made from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, making a very concentrated wine. 

 

Erste Lage: 'Premier Cru'
It is a designation used by VDP in all regions, except Mosel and Rheingau to selected sites suitable for 'first growth' vineyards.

 

Erstes Gewächs: 'Great Growth'
a designatíon used by VDP members in all regions to designate top-level dry wines from sites classified as Große Lage.

 

Feinherb: 'Off-dry'
Simply means that the wine is off-dry - which means it is between half-dry and sweet.

 

Gutsabfüllung: 
This means that the wine was bottled directly by the winery itself.

 

Halbtrocken: 'Half-dry'

 

Kabinett: 'cabinet' meaning wine of reserve quality to be kept in the winser's cabinet.
It is a fully ripened light wine from the main harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can also be dry.

 

Landwein: 
This wine is the second lowest quality wine that you will find in German.

 

Liebfraumilch: 'Cuvee'
It is a semi-sweet Qualitätswein from Rheingau, Nahe, Rheinhessen or Pfalz. It has to at least consist of 70% of the varieties Riesling, Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner), Silvaner or Kerner. 

 

Prädikatswein: 'Superior quality wine'
Know as Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP). It is quality wine with specific attributes. They range from sweet to dry. It must be produced from allowed varieties in one of the 41 subregions (Bereiche). The prädikat could be: Auslese, Kabinett, Spätlese, BA, TBA.

 

Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiet (QbA): 'Quality wine from a specific region'
This wine is from one of the 13 regions (Anbaugebiete). The alcohol content of the wine must be at least 7% by volume. 

 

Sekt: 
It is wine made sparkling. It is Germany's answer to Champagne. 

 

Selection: 
it is a dry wine with a must weight of at least Auslese level, from a selected vineyard site. The grapes have to be harvested by hand.

 

Spätlese: meaning 'late harvest'
it is typically half-dry, often sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper.

 

Trocken: 'dry'

 

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): meaning 'select dry berry harvest'
made from selected overripe shriveled grapes often affected by noble rot making extremely rich sweet wines. 'Trocken' dry in this phrase refers to the grapes being dried on the vine - it doesn't mean that the wine is dry. 

 

VDP: 'Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter e.V.' or 'The Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates'
It is an association where most (not all) of Germany's top wine producers are members. 

 

The quality of the wine and what it means will be explained in other blogs. Also, the grapes will be explained later in other blogs.

 

Sources used for this blog are: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/wine-regions/germany; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verband_Deutscher_Pr%C3%A4dikats-_und_Qualit%C3%A4tsweing%C3%BCter; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_wine_classification; https://www.vicampo.de/weinlexikon

 

 




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