"Selecting Fine Wines in Germany" Top 5 Page for this destination Germany Travelogue by Weissdorn
Germany Travel Guide: 56,030 reviews and 163,762 photos
If you're like me - your first experience with German Wine will be as follows:
You're sitting in an old rustic wine tavern somewhere where the boat stopped along the Rhine, most likely Rüdesheim or Bacherach, and there you sit in the wine restaurant - eager to sip aged vintages, and open the wine list.
After that you're stumped. There are about 10-20 different wines sold in the place by the glass or the bottle, and they have harsh exotic names, and not one is blinking suspciously with a neon sign saying "ORDER ME!"
Hmm. Time to get out the translator, and then you find out the words for "dry" and "semi-dry" and "sweet", but there are still 6 of each kind of those. So what now? The most expensive one? The least expensive one? The average one?
Hmm. Ask the waitor. Oh, he's a real pal! He just told you in his thick German accent, "Zey are aul gud!" Oh, great! Then you look at your friends and they look back at you. So you just guess. You pick either:
a) the cheapest one - according to the logic "if they are all good, why spend a lot of money"
b) the most expensive one - according to the logic, "he's lying - it's all pig swill except for the most expensive ones - plus I want to impress everyone"
c) the one with the most interesting sounding name.
I picked "c", and in my case it was a "Kröver Nacktarsch" which somehow translates to "Kröver Butt Naked".
It wasn't until much, much later, that I learned you can pick a wine you like simply by reading the label. This isn't always a guarantee, but it's a great guideline.
The first thing Germans look for on the label is the wine grower or producer, called "Erzeuger" This is the person or the company that made the wine. Beware if you see the name "Peter Mertes", because this is one of the biggest wholesalers and exporters of minimum quality wine in Germany.
The next thing to look for is the "Abfüller", or the company who filled the bottle. They aren't always one and the same company. Many small growers belong to a commune, and send their wines away to be bottled.
In the bottle in the picture, the "Erzeuger" is Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler and the "Abfüller" is himself - "Erzeuger-Abfüllung".
The "Anbauland" means the region where the grapes were grown, such as Rheinhessen, Mosel, Saar, Nahe, Baden, etc.
After that the Label indicates the variety of grape, such as here, a Kerner. The Germans call this "Rebesorte". Generally, Germany raises the following types of grapes: Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Kerner, Burgunder, Portugieser, Gewürztraminer, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris or Ruländer), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Scheurebe, Morio-Muskat and Spätburgunder (Weissherbst)
Then they have info about the year, and the percent in volume of alcohol - which is 10-16%. More alcohol doesn't necessarily make it a better wine, the wine makers use an "Oechsel-Table" to determin the grade of wine, which goes like this:
Tafelwein means Table Wine
Qualitätswein mean Quality Wine
Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) means Table Wine with Special Quality
QbA means the wine comes from one particular acre and was mixed with other grapes from other areas.
Kabinett means the grapes had more sugar in them when they were picked.
Auslese or Beerenauslese means that one the biggest sweetest and oldest grapes were picked to make this wine
Eiswein means the grapes were left so long on the vine until the first frost came, and froze the sugar
TBA is wine made from raisins.
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