1. Appellation of origin - Wine Growing region
To identify the region compare with the following list of the 13 German
wine growing regions: Ahr, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau,
Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Franken, Hessische Bergstrasse, Württemberg,
Baden, Saale/Unstrut, Sachsen.
vintage is the year the grapes were harvested. Wine is an agricultural
product and consequently very dependent on the weather which in
Germany, unlike more southerly climates, can be extremely variable. For
a vintage to be present, 85% of the grapes must have been from that
3. Village and vineyard
The often difficult to pronounce names on the label indicate the
village where the vineyard is located (identified by the -er suffix)
followed by another name (often ending in -berg [=mountain, slope]
indicating the vineyard site. Proprietary names like "Liebfraumilch"
and "Bishop of Riesling" have no vineyard designation, they are a blend
of wines from several vineyards.
4. Grape variety
The grape variety used to make a wine is the single most
influential factor determining its taste. Different grapes have
different flavors, just like different fruits have different flavors.
For example: Riesling is a very fruit-driven grape variety providing a
fine acidity. Gewürztraminer has very floral, perfumed flavors
reminiscent of rose petals while Silvaner is lower in acidity and less
floral, rather plain. For this to be on the bottle, the wine must be at
least 85% of that varietal.
5. Level of dryness
The taste/style or level of dryness of a wine depends on the cellar
master and is determined in the cellar by the winemaker; it is totally
independent of the grape. Dryness levels are not to be confused with
ripeness categories which depend on the ripeness of the grapes
harvested in the vineyard. Whether a wine is dry or sweet can be
indicated on the label.
Trocken indicates dry
wine without perceptible residual sweetness. It never contains more
than 9 grams of residual sugar per liter and often less. It is very dry.
Halbtrocken wines are
semi-dry and may not have more than 18 grams of residual sugar per
liter. With this barely perceptible sweetness, halbtrocken wines are
considered "dry" by most wine lovers.
If none of the above dryness levels can be found on the label, the
wine is most likely a sweeter style wine, but it can range from off-dry
to fully sweet. Generally, the sweetness in the wine does correlate
with the ripeness levels.
The ripeness categories are Tablewine, Qualitätswein and
Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. The latter is further divided into the
ripeness levels of:
Usually light wines made of fully ripe grapes. Intended to be a light
quaffing wine or to go with light food. Generally light in alcohol and
calories. Can be dry, medium-dry or sweet. These light wines are about
2 to 5% less in alcohol than Californian wines but not less tasty.
• Spätlese (Late Harvest)
It literally means late harvest. Wines of superior quality made from
grapes harvested after the normal harvest. These wines are more intense
in flavor and concentration than quality wines and Kabinetts. Good with
richer food or by themselves. The later harvest lets the grapes dry and
ripen on sunny autumn days which increases the intensity of the fruit
and the flavors. Can be dry, medium dry or sweeter style. Good values.
• Auslese (Select Picking)
Harvest of selected, very ripe bunches. Noble wines, intense in bouquet
and taste. Often dessert wines are light and sweet, but they can be
dry, medium dry or sweet. Dry Auslese wines are higher in alcohol and
can work with many main courses.
• Beerenauslese or BA (Berries Select Picking)
Harvest of individually selected, overripe berries. Remarkably rich,
sweet dessert wines to be enjoyed as dessert by themselves or with
• Trockenbeerenauslese or TBA (Dry Berries Select Picking)
Harvest of individually selected berries which are overripe and
shrivelled on the vine almost to raisins. Rich, sweet, luscious,
• Eiswein (Ice-Wine)
Wines of at least BA intensity, made from grapes harvested and pressed
while frozen. Truly unique wines with a remarkable concentration of
fruity acidity and sweetness.
*Note on dessert wines: Dessert wines or noble sweet wines, can be
in the Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese or Eiswein
category. Good examples distinguish themselves by high concentration of
fruit and acidity in combination with rich mouthfeel and intense
honey-like flavors. Wine lovers also refer to them as "nectar of the
The AP NR. or "Amtliche Prüfnummer," meaning "official approval
number" identifies the wine and is required for all qba and qmp wines.
It consists of several blocks of numbers identifying the wine like:
5 169 878 0009 93
• 5 stands for the testing center, where the wine was approved
• 169 stands for the village in which the winery is located that produced the wine
• 878 is the code number for the winery
• 0009 93
reflects, this is the 9th wine tested in the year 1993 (no necessary
relation to the vintage of the wine but most often the year after the
This coding enables the official testing centers to identify a
wine. If there is any complaint or doubt of authenticity of the wine,
sealed bottles which the winery has to keep for a number of years can
be cross checked and tasted to investigate.
Name of producer or estate, in this case the producer is Winzer Bacchus.
There are about 100,000 grape growers in Germany, yet only about one
fourth as many wine producers. If the label indicates
"Erzeugerabfüllung" (estate bottled), it assures you that the grapes
were grown and the wine was produced by one and the same grower or
cooperative of growers (Winzergenossenschaft).
As an alternative to "Erzeugerabfüllung," estates and growers which
grow, produce, and bottle their own wine can use the term
"Gutsabfüllung" on the label. The grower or collective group of growers
is responsible for and guarantees the quality of the wine. Sometimes
the bottlers or shipper will assume responsibility and will be
identified on the label as "Abfüller."