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German Wine Quality Levels

German wine qualities in pyramid representation

More important than the quality is that the wine tastes and is compatible.

Germany was traditionally considered to be the northernmost wine-growing region of the world.  In Saxony, wine has been cultivated since the early 12th century, although severe winters can reach temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. In Saale-Unstrut there are table wines, although the viticultural region lies on the 51st parallel north latitude. To cultivate northern grapes, special grape varieties were bred that are very fast-matured and particularly resistent against external environmental influences. These countries claim to own the world's northernmost wine-growing region: Alaska (USA), Finland, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden. Perhaps due to the idea to get less sun than in the southern, the German quality grades were classified in achieved sugar level ​​(degree Oechsle) of the grapes. It is also a quick and easy analytical indicator of grape maturity. Since we have 13 wine-growing regions in Germany, further quality levels have been established. It is written a lot about it, but so complex that hardly anyone wants to deal with this topic.

Greeks and Romans knew very well where good wine grows and made these origins known. Thus, associations were established (a good way to obtain quality wines without much prior knowledge), which ensure the best possible qualities. In the Moselle region, the Bernkasteler Ring is very well known and is a seal of quality! The VDP is the German Elite Association in the German viticulture, whose members have the classification for very high qualities and carry the name of the top vineyard locations.  The origin is decisive! The VDP members indicate: Great location, First location (Moselle), local wine, estate wine.

Categories of wine today:

As part of the EU wine market reform in 2009, the previous system of classification was abolished and the differentiation of wines changed. Four types of classifications were created in which the wines are distinguished now. It still remaines  complex! The consumers continue to be burdened with contents of sugar and acid  or traditional terms.

Fourth Category: "wine" without indication of origin.

These wines can be selected from grapes of several EU countries and vintages. In Germany we reffere to as "table wine", in France as "vin de tables".
Class 1: Grape variety or vintage may not be specified. These wines may have minor wine flaws. Red wine from the European Union could be an example here.
Class 2: Grape variety or vintage must be declared. Such wine should be free of flaws in both appearance and taste. "German wine" or "wine from Austria" does not serve the geographical indication, but is a duty in the class 2.

Third  Category:  "local wines" (Landwein) with geographical indications from the following 26 table wine areas:

Ahrtaler Landwein
Badischer Landwein
Bayrischer Bodensee Landwein
Brandenburger Landwein
Landwein Main
Landwein der Mosel
Landwein Neckar
Landwein Oberrhein
Landwein Rhein
Landwein Rhein-Neckar
Landwein der Ruwer
Landwein der Saar
Mecklenburger Landwein
Mitteldeutscher Landwein
Nahegauer Landwein
Pfälzer Landwein
Regensburger Landwein
Rheinburgen - Landwein
Rheingauer Landwein
Rheinischer Landwein
Saarländischer Landwein
Sächsischer Landwein
Schleswig-Holsteiner Landwein
Schwäbischer Landwein
Starkenburger Landwein
Taubertäler Landwein

In France, it is reffered to as "vin de pays". Grapes must originate to 100% from one of the protected local winegrowing areas and a quality grape variety.

Second Category: wine - only from one of the 13 German protected wine-growing areas:
"Quality wines" or "Qualitätsweine"

First Category: Quality wines with specific attributes
"Quality wines with specific attributes" or "Prädikatsweine" completed by Cabinet (Kabinett), Spätlese (meaning late harvest), Auslese (meaning select harvest), Beerenauslese (meaning select berry harvest), Trockenbeerenauslese (meaning dry berry selection), Eiswein (meanig ice wine) and flavour details: dry, semi-dry, sweet and sweet. Link to bmel.

Ahr
Baden
Franken
Hessische Bergstraße
Mittelrhein
Moselle
Nahe
Palatinate
Rheingau
Rheinhessen
Saale-Unstrut
Saxony
Württemberg

Additional information can be obtained on the EU website under:  E-Bacchus

All rights reserve. All information is supplied without guarantee.

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