Classifications of Quality for German Wines

When it comes to wine, the whole country is obsessed with ripeness; Germany, along with Austria, are the only two countries in the world to classify their wine’s quality based on its ripeness.  There are 2 different classes of Quality classification. For more basic everyday wine, there’s Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugetiete (QbA), consists of 13 official regions.   Better wines are classified as Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP), which has 6 levels of quality, based on the sugar content at harvest.

Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP) is the other designation for the better wines.  For this, a wine’s quality is determined based on its ripeness, or sugar content at harvest.  There are 6 levels of quality in this classification.Pradikatswein

Kabinett: 1st level of ripeness, made from standard harvest, produce lighter wine can be made dry or off-dry and generally low in alcohol. Lively acidity makes it very food friendly, from delicate seafood to spicy Asian food. 

Spatlese: Although it means late harvest, it will not taste anything like Late Harvest Riesling from California or anywhere else.  The grapes are picked later resulting in more concentration than Kabinett.

Auslese: means selected harvest, grape clusters with the right ripeness will be hand harvested, as each grape vine produces multiple clusters which ripen at various rates.  Some clusters will be affected by Noble Rot Or Botrytis Cinerea adding to the wine an unmistakable caramelly honey characters.

Beerenauslese: While Auslese is grapes harvested by selected cluster, Beerenauslese is another level above, with selected berry late harvest.  Each grape berry is painfully harvest one any one that is affected by Noble Rot, undoubtedly this can only be done by hand. 

Eiswein:  Ice-wine, grapes are left on the vine long into winter months, moisture is naturally being sucked away in this bone-chilling weather.   For Eiswein, grapes must be at the same ripeness as Beerenauslese without the effect of Noble Rot.TrockenbeerenausleseTrockenbeerenauslese (TBA): This terminology will put Speaking German to the best, but it is the King of them all. Directly means Dry Selected Berry Late Harvest, TBA are only made in selective years when all conditions are right.  Grape berries concentrated their flavors due to Noble Rot making a one of a kind wine.  TBA has the integrity to age easily 30 years in cellar, sometime even 40-50 years.

Thomas Le, CS.

 

 

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Thomas Le

-Certified Sommelier (CMS)

Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM

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