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How to Read a German Wine Label

by:LG Printing     2020-04-28
Legal Basis for German Wine Classifications The Legislation of the European Union only differentiates roughly between Table Wine and Quality Wine. Member States are able to translate this Law into national conditions and allowed to add Specifications. The German Law requires much more information printed on the Wine Label of a German Wine and is quite different from most Classification Systems in other Countries. The many Classifications in Germany can be explained by the broad Diversity of the different Wine-growing Regions and the special Weather Conditions. The official German Wine Classification is based on the Wine Law from 1971 (some changes were made since then). Included in the Law were several Factors which are helpful to grade a Wine, such as the Wine Region, the Ripeness of the Grape, the adding of Sugar or the Alcohol Content. In relation to the Wine Law from 1971 were the Wine Law of 1994 and the Wine Order of 1998 added. Federal Regulations may be also complemented by the States. The main purpose of the Wine Law's and Order is the Regulation of Import and Export of German Wine, the Monitoring of the national Wine Production, the Assurance of the Quality Standards and the Protection of the Wine Consumers. These points include the Limitation of Wine Production to 13 specific Regions and the Controlling of new Plantings of Vineyards. Furthermore, is the largest average Yield for a Vineyard specified and the Irrigation of Vineyards prohibited (exceptions for steep slopes and rocky soils). Criticism of some Wine Producers led to some extra Classifications (e.g. VDP - Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweine), but without any Right of legal Protection. The main critics were that the conventional System does not differentiate between better and lesser Vineyards and that it is not appropriate to classify Dry Wines with High Quality. Classification System for German Wine The Label of German Wine contains mandatory information, namely the Specified Region, Quality Category, Liquid Content, Alcohol Level in Volume, Producer or Bottler and the Quality Control Test Number (.). Most Wine Producer declare optional information like the Vintage, Vineyard Site, Grape Variety, Style and the amount of Residual Sugar on their Wine Label. Based on the mentioned Laws above, there are four different Quality Levels to measure the Grade of a German Wine: Deutscher Tafelwein (German Table Wine) Deutscher Landwein (German Country Wine) Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete - QbA (Quality Wine from a Specific Region) Praedikatswein: (Quality Wine with Special Attributes) All quality Wines (QbA and higher) have to undergo a critical, blind, sensory Assessment and a chemical Analysis to prove their Bouquet, Taste and the Visual Appearance. This Test is based on a five-point scale and executed by the DLG (German Agricultural Society). The Test examines if the Wine is typical of the Origin, Grape Variety and Quality Grade which were stated on the Application of the Wine Producer. If the Wine passes the Judgment it receives the quality control test number (.), which is a valuable Indicator for Wine Consumers. Every German Wine is required to have one of the Grades on their Wine Label. Currently, it came into fashion that some of the most renowned Wine Producer doesn't distinguish between the different Praedikatswein (Quality Wines with Special Attributes) anymore but simply declare them as Qualitaetswein. That is conform to legal aspects and is surely fine for Wine Producers with a high Reputation, who claim that only the Quality of the Grapes and the Soil of their Vineyards counts but the Classification itself is not necessary for them. Deutscher Tafelwein (German Table Wine) Deutscher Tafelwein is the lowest grade possible for a German Wine and is mostly consumed in Germany and not exported. This level of classification is called 'vin de table' in France, 'vino de mesa' in Spain or 'vino de tavola' in Italy. It must be produced exclusively at recognized Vineyards from recognized Grape varieties. There are five classified regions for Tafelwein in Germany which have to be indicated on the Wine Label. The alcohol content has to reach at least 8.5% volume and an acidity of 4.5 grams per liter. Deutscher Landwein (German Country Wine) Deutscher Landwein has a slightly higher grade than Tafelwein but does not play a large role in the export market, too. The style of Landwein is either dry (trocken) or semi-dry (halbtrocken) and the equivalence for the German Landwein in France is the 'vin de pays'. But the regulations for the production of Landwein are similar to the ones for Tafelwein with the slight difference that this one has to have a minimum of 9.0% of alcohol. There are 19 recognized regions which can declare the Wine Classification Landwein. Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete - QbA (Quality Wine from a Specific Region) Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) are the Wines which meet the first level of quality (Tafelwein and Landwein are not considered as quality Wines) and generate the largest volume of German Wines. QbA states that a German Wine labeled with the acronym comes from one of the 13 official Wine Growing Regions and is produced from allowed Grape Varieties. Every quality Wine must achieve a minimum amount of natural alcohol (7% volume), whereby Chaptalization before the Fermentation is allowed for QbA classified Wines to improve the ripeness. The maximum level of sugar that may be added is regulated by law. Usually, QbA Wine ranges from trocken (dry) to lieblich (semi-sweet) and even if it is mostly a basic Wine from an estate, it can be a really good value for relatively low prices. Praedikatswein (Quality Wine with Special Attributes) The top level of Wine Grades in Germany was formerly known as Qualitaetswein mit Praedikat (QmP) and renamed to Praedikatswein in 2007. This classification tells you that the Wine comes from one of the 13 recognized German Wine Regions and that it has a special predicate or attribute, which can be one of the six following (sorted in ascending order of Ripeness): Kabinett Spaetlese Auslese Beerenauslese Trockenbeerenauslese Eiswein Praedikatswein represents the finest German Wines and the most demanding when it comes to the Grape Variety, Maturity, Harmony and Elegance. The six categories of Praedikatswein need to have a minimum must weight and they have to be produced without chaptalization. The style of the Wine can range from trocken (dry) to edelsue?? (intensively sweet) but it is most likely that a Praedikatswein contains a large natural amount of residual sugar. Kabinett Kabinett is the driest of the Praedikatswein but still at least halbtrocken (semi-dry) in most of the cases. Grapes for the Kabinett Wines are harvested several days after the QbA Grapes and produce typically an elegant, light and delicate style with low alcohol content. The minimum level of alcohol has to be 7.0% and the must weight 67-82 Oe (degree Oechsle), depending on the Grape Variety and the origin of the Wine. Spaetlese (Late Harvest Wines) Spaetlese Wines are fruitier and sweeter than the Kabinett Wines since the Grapes are usually picked two weeks after the Kabinett and therefore extra time to ripe. The Wine can be fermented in different styles from dry (trocken) to lieblich (fruity) but are mostly found in a lieblich (semi-sweet) style. The very ripe Grapes provide the Kabinett Wine with a fine Bouquet and a balanced, well-rounded taste. By law, the Kabinett Wines have at least an alcohol content of 7% and a must weight of 76-90 Oe. Auslese (Selected Harvest Wines) The Grapes for Auslese Wines are hand-selected and the overripe, late-harvested Berries usually contain higher sugar content than Spaetlese Wines. Auslese Wine Grapes are partially affected by Botrytis or other Noble Rot Character, which remove the Moisture from the Grape. Due to the fact that unripe Berries have been removed during the Harvest, Kabinett carries an intense bouquet with a fruity style and is often considered as one of the noblest Wines from an estate. The minimum alcohol content for Auslese Wines is the same as for Spaetlese (7%) and the must weights is at least between 83-100 Oe. Beerenauslese (Berry Selection Wines) Beerenauslese Wines are rare Dessert Wines which are made from Grapes which are completely infected by Botrytis Mould. The Grapes have been left on the Vineyards longer than the Grapes for Auslese and are selected one by one. The Wines are very rare and cannot be produced every year. The Beerenauslese Wines develop an unmistakable Honey-like Aroma due to their Ripeness and the Noble Rot. The High-Quality Wines are generally full-bodied and very fruity with a rich Style. The minimum level of alcohol is with 5.5% lower than for the other Praedikatswein and the must weight is 110-128 Oe. Trockenbeerenauslese (Dry Berry Selection Wines) The Grapes for a Trockenbeerenauslese Wine have reached a raisin-like state and are even sweeter than the ones used for Beerenaulese. The Berries are completely shriveled by the Botrytis and are picked with greatest care. With its high concentration of Sweetness, the Trockenbeerenauslese Wine is considered as Germany's greatest and rarest Dessert Wine. The finest Selection of German Wine has its Price and is just the right Wine to store in your Wine Cellar for decades and then serve it for the perfect Occasion. The extremely sweet and concentrated Wine has a minimum alcohol content of 5.5% and a minimum must weight of 150-154 Oe. Eiswein (Ice Wine) Eiswein also belongs to the group of Dessert Wines and is made from naturally and solid frozen Grapes. The Grapes, with a similar or even higher Sweetness as Beerenauslese Grapes, are harvested quickly after the first Frost and pressed in a frozen state. The pressed Grape Juice reaches a high Concentration because most of the Water is isolated through the Ice and remains in the Press. The Eiswein reaches a fruity Acidity and Sweetness and is best served as an Ap?锟絩itif or as completion for a Dessert. The minimum must weight and alcohol level is the same as for Beerenauslese. Additional Classifications on German Wine Labels Additionally to the legally based Classification for German Wines, there are some relatively new labeling methods by the Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweine (VDP). Wines with a high quality can be classified according to their Wine-growing Region and even to the particular Vineyard. Further Classifications may appear according to the Content of Residual Sugar of the Wine: Trocken (dry): less than 9 grams/liter of residual sugar and usually bearing yellow-coloured capsules Halbtrocken (half-dry): 9-18 grams/liter of residual sugar and internationally rather recognized as dry, bears mostly lime-green capsules Feinherb (off-dry): unregulated designation and slightly sweeter than Halbtrocken Lieblich / Mild (semi-sweet): unregulated designation, sugar content can mostly be derived from the Predicate, bears mostly red seals Sue?? (sweet): unregulated designation, sugar content can mostly be derived from the Predicate, bears mostly red seals The VDP also differentiates between different kinds of Growers and Producers of a Wine by using the following Terms: Weingut (Wine Estate): refers to a Wine Producing Estate Weinkellerei (Winery): refers to a Winery Winzergenossenschaft (Wine-growers Co-operative): refers to a Co-operation of several Wine-growers Erzeugerabfuellung (Producer-bottled Wine): states that all Grapes used for the Production are cultivated, pressed, matured and bottled at the same Estate (can also apply for Wine produced by a Wine-growers Co-operative) Gutsabfuellung (Estate-bottled Wine): refers to a Grower or Producer that meets the requirements for Producer-bottled Wine as well as some additional requirements Abfueller (Bottler / Shipper): refers to a Bottler or Shipper
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