German wine - wine basics
- be produced exclusively from German produce from the legally recognized roster of grapes permitted in Gemany, grown in one Bereich (district) within one of the 13 specified wine-growing regions; the region must be declared on the label
- must reach a natural alcohol content as legally prescribed for the region, grape variety and special attribute (level of ripeness at harvest) of the wine
- must reach an existing alcohol content of at least 7% by volume (the minimum for Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein is 5.5% by volume).
Chaptalization is never permitted for these wines.
Furthermore, one of the following six special attributes must be identified on the label and the wines are subject to additional regulations concerning ripeness level, and in some cases, method of harvesting.
In ascending order of ripeness at harvest the attributes are:
Kabinett made from fully ripened grapes. Fine, usually light wines with a low alcohol content. Excellent with or without meals.
Spätlese (Spatlese) wines
Spätlese literally means late harvest; made from riper grapes that usually have been picked at a later stage in the harvest. These wines are more intense in flavor and concentration, but not necessarily sweet. Good with richer, more flavorful foods, or by themselves.
Auslese made from selected (Auslese=selected), very ripe bunches. Noble wines, intense in bouquet and taste, usually, but not always sweet.
Beerenauslese wines (BA)
Beerenauslese (abbreviated BA): made from individually-selected, overripe berries that usually are infected by Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). These are rarities, harvested only when exceptional weather conditions enable the grapes to ripen to this extent. They are notable for their longevity (can be stored for decades). Remarkably rich, sweet dessert wines, or to be enjoyed by themselves.
Eiswein wines - ice wines
Eiswein: made from grapes as ripe as BA, but harvested and pressed while frozen. Truly unique wines with a remarkable concentration of fruity acidity and sweetness.
Trockenbeerenauslese wines (TBA)
Auslese made from selected, very ripe bunches. Noble wines, intense in bouquet and taste, usually, but not always sweet.