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 Filed as : Regional SpotlightWine TipsGermany

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Nov 11, 2010
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
Deciphering German wine labels is easier than it looks.

labelinfoWhile the Germans have sold us on superior engineering, sauerkraut and several things in between, they're still pretty far behind on wine labels that make sense. Delicious bottles of great value are easy to overlook when the labels read like Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses.

While it is true that knowledge is power, just a few helpful tips go a long way toward finding the right German wine to suit your tastes. Believe it or not, all that German lingo on the label is there to help you.

German wines are separated into categories of quality, such as QbA (Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete), which indicates that the wine is from one of 13 designated regions. As the Germans are exceptionally organized, all Qualitatswein (quality wine) must pass a test by an official tasting panel before the wine's release. But the thing you really want to look for is an indication of sweetness, since you might like a dry wine (low or no sugar), a sweet one or something in between.

The sweetness levels are Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Eiswein, with Kabinett being the dry end of the spectrum. Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein have sweetness levels right up there with maple syrup--often with similar flavors.

When in doubt, always ask a knowledgeable salesperson for clarification, or click here for a more detailed, easy-to-understand explanation. And if you have a favorite German wine, tell us about it below.


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Saké For The Soul

Nov 11, 2010
Kabinett toTBA aren't sweetness levels, they are ripeness levels at harvest. You can have a dry Spatlese for example...

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