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  • Writer's pictureKelly Franz

Verstehen Sie das? Understanding German Wine

Updated: Oct 3, 2018

Prost!  (Cheers!), Zum wohl! (To your health!)... Now that you are fluent in German toasting, let’s get to the understanding of German wine labels, shall we?!  

While many of us are familiar with the most popular white grape variety in Germany, the Riesling, the most common red grape may not be as well- known: the Spätburgunder (in case the confidence in your German dropped in the past couple of sentences, many know this fine wine as Pinot Noir.)

There are four classifications of German wine (Deutscher Tafelwein(Table Wine), Landwein(Country Wine), Qualitätswein /QbA(Quality Wine) and Prädikatswein(Quality Wine with Attributes), but a wise person only speaks of what he/she knows and, for me, that’s the latter. Prädikatswein is further categorized based on the level of ripeness/attributes. Here is the list in ascending levels of ripeness from crisp to very sweet. 

Kabinett (cabinet): early harvested grapes that leave a light, refreshing taste Spätlese (late harvest): is a richer, more flavorful taste because the grapes are kept on the wine for a longer period of time Auslese (select harvest): bold, semi-sweet or sweet wine comes from a selection of longer harvested grape bundles

Beerenauslese (BA)(selected harvest of berries): hand picked overly ripened berries that produce a very sweet taste

Eiswein: (ice wine):  grapes that are both harvested and pressed while frozen so the sugar levels are high thus producing a very sweet wine

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): (selected harvest of dry berries): hand-picked, very ripe, dry grapes (think: nearly raisins) that create a very sweet, rich taste.

And if that wasn’t enough ‘wineology’  for one day, then here’s a bit more... Wine is further classified into the varying tastes based on its amount of residual sugar: 

Trocken – (dry)

Halbtrocken– (half dry) – with a bit of sweet taste

Feinherb– (semi-dry) a tad too sweet to be referred to as Halbtrocken

Lieblich –  (semi-sweet) 

Süß– (sweet)

Lastly, if you find any of the below mentioned stickers on a wine bottle, grab it and head directly to the checkout line because who wouldn't want to have the sweet (or dry!) taste of victory?!?

Goldene Kammerpreismünze  Silberne Kammerpreismünze Bronzene Kammerpreismünze

And no, I'm not referring to Olympic medals here, but rather Gold, Silver & Bronze coins given to wine makers as an award of excellence for producing high quality wines.  

"Lassen Sie uns unser Glas zum deutschen Wein heben!"  "Let's raise our glass to German Wine".. and with German wine!

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