Understanding German Wine Labels

By Vinojoe

Many people walk right by the German section of the wine shop, some because they think all German wines are sweet, others because they can't understand all that jibberish on the label.

In fact, many German wines are pleasantly dry, and though it may look confusing at first, the label will tell you more than those from other countries.

By law, German wine labels must show the the quality level of the wine, the region the wine is from, the grapes used, and the ripeness level. Almost all exported wine is of good quality; somewhere you should see the name "Qualitatswein", or the initials "QbA" or "QMP" to confirm this. Next, find labels that say "Riesling"; this is a wonderfully fruity grape that matches well with a great variety of foods. Then, look for one of these regions: Rheinhassen, Pfalz, Rheingau, or Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; in my opinion these are your best bets. Finally, choose one that says "Kabinett"---this indicates the wine is dry to semi-dry, and made from normally ripened grapes. This is the least expensive and driest type. If you like your wine a bit sweeter, pick "Spatlese" or "Auslese"; these are wines made from grapes that have been picked later, and thus were much riper. Even riper levels such as "Beerenauslese", "Trockenbeerenauslese", and "Eiswein" exist, but they are more like dessert wines and very expensive; I recommend you try Kabinett and Spatlese before moving on in your discovery of German wine.

For more information about German wines, please click here.

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