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Germany

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. 

2. Vintage
The 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 vintage.  

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.  

6. Ripeness categories

The ripeness categories are Tablewine, Qualitätswein and Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. The latter is further divided into the ripeness levels of:

Kabinett
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 dessert.

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, honey-like wines.

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 gods."
   
7. Ap - number
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 vintage)

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.

8. Producer vs. Bottler

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."

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