German Wine Classifications

I wrote in depth about the German classifications of distinction here. This is just an at a glance sheet if you stumble across one of the words in my articles and wonder what the heck that is. Key for the system is the sugar in the grapes (determined by must weight according to the Oechsle scale). Please remember that the level of distinction does not say anything about them being sweet, off-dry or dry!

1) QbA (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete – quality wine from one specified region)

Grapes have to come from one of the 13 German wine regions
Minimum must weight 51 to 72 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 7%
Usually lighter bodied, easy drinking wines

2) Kabinett

Fully ripened grapes from one district
Minimum must weight 67 to 82 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 7%
Light wines with low alcohol content

3) Spätlese (Late Harvest)

Made from riper grapes, not necessarily later in the harvest
Minimum must weight 76 to 90 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 7%
More intense in flavor and concentration – tend to be my favorite wines

4) Auslese (Select Harvest)

Made from selected very ripe grapes or bunches
Minimum must weight 83 to 100 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 7%
Already very concentrated, intense flavors

5) Beerenauslese – BA (Select Berry Harvest)

Made from individually selected, overripe berries that are often infected with noble rot (botrytis)
Minimum must weight 110 to 128 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 5.5%
Rarity wine with low yields, age for decades, always sweet

6) Eiswein (Ice Wine)

Requirements as BA, but no noble rot
Grapes have to be frozen on the vine at -7 C
Myth surrounding them makes them special, more here

7) Trockenbeerenauslese – TBA (Select Dry Berry Harvest)

Made from select overripe shrivelled berries that are often infected with noble rot
Minimum must weight 150 to 154 degree Oechsle depending on region and grape
Minimum ABV 5.5.%
The rarest of rare German wines, intensely concentrated and syrupy, can age for centuries

11 thoughts on “German Wine Classifications

  1. There are more people in this wrold confused by this system than those who get the idea of the German wine classification system. Thank you for this post! :)

  2. […] written posts on Riesling on his blog. He was even courageous enough to challenge the German system of wine classifications – which is different from what we know from other countries – and to try to explain it. So, […]

  3. […] posts on Riesling on his blog: http://www.thewinegetter.com. He was even so courageous to challenge the German system of wine classifications, which is different from what we know from other countries, and to try to explain it. So, when he […]

  4. […] on wine from a German in Ann Arbor HomeAboutSunday ReadToolsGerman Wine ClassificationsWinery visits Oct 10 2012 Leave a comment By the winegetter 2011, Food and Wine […]

  5. […] on wine from a German in Ann Arbor HomeAboutAt a glanceGerman Wine ClassificationsWinery visits Aug 15 2012 Leave a comment By the winegetter Germany, Mosel, […]

  6. […] on wine from a German in Ann Arbor HomeAboutAt a glanceGerman Wine ClassificationsWinery visits Jul 20 2012 Leave a comment By the winegetter Germany, I have no clue how […]

  7. […] on wine from a German in Ann Arbor HomeAboutAt a glanceGerman Wine ClassificationsWinery visits Jul 17 2012 Leave a comment By the winegetter Germany, Mosel, […]

  8. This is a very limited analysis. For a comprehensive discission go to “Approaches to Classifying German Wine: The Standard Approach (the Law of 1971), the VDP Approach and the Zero Classification Approach” http://schiller-wine.blogspot.com/2012/05/approaches-to-classifying-german-wine.html schiller-wine

    • I would not even call this an analysis at all. It is an at a glance sheet, to provide quick info for people who don’t have an idea what the word stands for. Thanks for your link.

  9. […] on wine from a German in Ann Arbor HomeAboutAt a glanceGerman Wine Classifications Jul 13 2012 Leave a comment By the winegetter Germany, Mosel, […]

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