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Choosing German Wine

December 22, 2011 3:39 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink, Learn

The key to choosing a German wine lies in two characteristics: ripeness and sweetness.  While ripeness is under nature’s control, sweetness can be under the winemaker’s control using chaptalization.


Ripeness:

TBA Trocken Beerenauslese: when harvested, the berries are selectively picked by hand and are overripe and shriveled to the vine.  Affected with botrytis cinerea, these wines are rich, sweet, luscious and honey-like.

BA Beerenauslese: Super ripe grapes for beerenauslese are often partially affected by botrytis cinerea.  The botrytized grapes are picked one by one by hand.  Messy to press, difficult to ferment, and painstakingly long to pick, these grapes will make extraordinarily sweet wine.

Auslese: Very ripe grape bunches are hand selected in late August.   These wines are intense in bouquet. While they are at times affected by noble rot, it never dominates the character of the wine.  These desert wines are often light and sweet, though they can by dry and quite high in alcohol.

Spatlese: Spatlese translates to late harvest.  These wine of superior quality are picked after the normal harvest and are more intense in flavour then Kabinett.  Allowing the grapes to stay on the vine for an elongated period of time lets the grapes ripen on sunny Autumn days, thus increasing the intensity of fruit flavours.

Kabinett: Kabinett wines are light wines made from fully ripened grapes.

QbA Qualitatswein: These are quality wines of a specific appellation.  They are made from approved grape varieties (for that appellation) and picked at sufficient ripeness.  These wines may undergo chaptalization.  This process allows these otherwise light wines to become fuller and gain some body.

Deutscher Landwein: These are superior table wines and must follow several requirements:

–       the wine must be produced exclusively from one of the recognized german grapes and grown in one of the 19                        Landwein regions.

–       must reach a natural alcohol content of at least 0.5% more than simple Deutscher Wein

–       must be either trocken (dry) or halbtrocken (off dry)

Deutscher Wein: Must fulfill the following conditions:

–       produced exclusively from legally recognized German grapes and grown in Germany

–       must reach a natural alcohol content (must weight) of either 5% or 6% depending on the climate zone

–       reach an existing alcohol content of 8.5% by volume

–       reach a total acidity of at least 4.5 grams/liter

Sweetness:

Trocken : bone dry

Halbtrocken: dry to the taste but containing up to 1.8% residual suger per liter

Sweet: from a little bit to a lot

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