German wine - wine basics
Dryness of German wines
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 German wines
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 German wines
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 one can say, the lower the alcohol, the higher might be the residual sugar and often, the residual sugar or perceivable sweetness in the wine does correlate with the ripeness levels.
Level 1 - Trocken wines (very dry)
Bonedry sipping wine or aperitif; great with fish/shellfish dishes and light flavored dishes with high acidity (i.e. Lemon)
Level 2 - Halbtrocken wines (dry)
Multipurpose wine, dry sipping wine or aperitif; great with light to medium flavored dishes; wonderful party wines; very versatile
Level 3 - Off dry or fruity wines
Wine with some hint of sweetness; great summer sipper; or with vinaigrette salads, lightly spicy dishes and dishes with light cream sauces
Level 4 - Mildly sweet wines
Rich sipping wine with noticable sweetness; good with spicy food or dishes that have a fruit component (steak with baked banana, toast hawaii, etc.)
Level 5 - Noble sweet wines
Rich, full sweet wine that can be used for aperitif or as dessert (Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein and some Auslese) wonderful complexity that does not need any company.