Wine Label Information German Wine Labels

German Wine Label Information

German wine labels are complex but highly informative - they provide more information as standard than those of any other nation. A single label may indicate (among other things) the producer's name and location, the wine's sweetness, its grape variety, how ripe the grapes were when harvested, the name of the village and vineyard the grapes came from, and whether the wine was bottled at the winery or by a third party.

Below is an example label, and below that an overview of German wine classification and terminology. For comprehensive information about the German regions and their wines, see?Germany.

German Wine Label Image

The four official tiers of German wine quality:

  • Pr?dikatswein, formerly?Qualit?tswein mit Pr?dikat?(QmP), is the top tier of German wine quality classification. Because grapes often struggle to ripen in Germany's cool climate, ripeness is used as a key indicator of quality, and is the basis of the?Pr?dikatswein?system. To qualify, a wine must be made from grapes with a?must weight?(ripeness) of over 67 degrees?Oechsle. It may then be classified into one of the six official?Pr?dikats:
    • Kabinett?is the lightest style, made from grapes harvested at 67-82 Oechsle. Kabinett wines are most often produced in a dry or medium-dry style.
    • Sp?tlese?means 'late harvest', denoting that (theoretically) the grapes were picked at least a week after the start of harvest, at 76-90 Oechsle. Sp?tlese wines are slightly richer, more concentrated and typically sweeter than Kabinett.
    • Auslese?means 'selected harvest', and is made from ripe grapes (83-100 Oechsle) affected to some degree by?botrytis. Auslese wines are traditionally sweet in style, but modern winemaking trends have led to the appearance of dry?Auslese Trocken?wines, which are naturally powerful and high in alcohol.
    • Beerenauslese (BA)?means 'berry selection'. Super-ripe grapes (110-128 Oechsle) remain on the vine and are 'selected' only if affected by botrytis. Sweeter and richer than Auslese, Beerenauslese wines are intensely flavored, golden nectars.
    • Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA)?means 'dry berry selection'. Grapes are left on the vine until reaching a raisin-like state, with highly concentrated sugars (150-154 Oechsle). Trockenbeerenauslese wine is the sweetest, rarest and most expensive Pr?dikatswein.
    • Eiswein?means 'ice wine', and indicates that the over-ripe grapes (110-128 Oechsle) were harvested and pressed while frozen. This naturally concentrates both sugars and acids, resulting in lusciously sweet wines which nonetheless have balanced acidity.
  • Qualit?tswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA)?is Germany's second tier of wine quality classification, and means literally 'quality wine from a specified region'. Almost three-quarters of all German wine is produced in this category. A QbA wine must be made exclusively from grapes grown in one of Germany's 13 official?Anbaugebiete?(wine regions), of which?Mosel?is the most famous.
  • Deutscher Landwein?means 'German country wine' - equivalent to France's Vin de Pays (and thus the Euro-wide IGP category).
  • Deutscher Wein?means simply 'German wine', and provides few guarantees of quality. Deutscher Wein bears no A.P.Nr quality control number, and is almost always made for the domestic market.

In addition to their official quality classification, German wine labels often indicate how dry or sweet the wine is, according to its?residual sugar?content. The most common terms are?trocken?(dry - up to 9g/l) and?halbtrocken?(medium-dry - up to 18g/l). The unofficial term?Feinherb?is also sometimes used for 'off-dry'. These terms indicate how sweet the wine tastes, and are distinct from the Pr?dikats (e.g. Kabinett, Sp?tlese), which indicate the grapes' ripeness levels (must weight) at harvest.

VDP (Verband Deutscher Pr?dikats- und Qualit?tsweinguter)

The VDP (The Association of German Quality and Pr?dikat Wine Estates) is an association of about 200 top German wineries. Membership is voluntary, but requires adherence to strict standards well above those required by German wine law.

Since 1910, the VDP and its black eagle logo have remained an important (yet unofficial) symbol of German wine quality. The association has created its own wine quality system, based on the vineyard classification terms?Grosse Lage?and?Erste Lage?(similar to France's?Grand Cru?and?Premier Cru).

VDP logo
The VDP's eagle logo

Grosse Lage?is used only for Germany's very best vineyard sites - small, carefully demarcated areas with clear site-specific characteristics. Yields on these sites are limited to 50hl/ha.

Grosses Gew?chs?denotes a dry wine from a?Grosse Lage?vineyard. A?Grosses Gew?chs?may be white or red, depending on the vineyard in question.

Erste Lage?is used for 'first class' vineyards with distinctive characteristics, but which rank just behind Grosse Lage in terms of quality. Yields are limited to 60hl/ha.

See also wine label information for the?European Union,?France,?Spain,?Italy,?Australia?and the?USA.

German Wine Label Terminology

Bottler or shipper
Amtliche Prüfungsnummer (A.P. Nr):
Quality control number, granted only after official quality testing
One of Germany's 13 wine regions
One of Germany's 39 wine districts, which make up the 13?Anbaugebiete
Single vineyard
Erste Lage:
High-quality vineyard, similar to 'Premier Cru'
Producer-bottled wine
'Gold capsule', indicating a producer's finest wine
Collection of vineyards
Grosse Lage:
Top-quality vineyard, similar to 'Grand Cru'
Grosses Gew?chs:
Dry wine from a?Grosse Lage?vineyard
Estate-bottled wine
Semi-sweet style, made most often from Muller-Thurgau
Unit of must-weight (grape sugar content)
'distinction', or ripeness level
Red wine
Rosé wine made from red and white grapes
Rotling-like rosé style from Württemberg (and N.Switzerland)
Sparkling wine
Verband Deutscher Pr?dikats- und Qualit?tsweinguter
Wine estate
Rosé made from a single red-wine grape variety
White wine
Winegrowers co-operative

Many of the terms used also appear on?Austrian wine labels, although their meanings differ subtly between the two countries.