These ripeness categories are determined by the sugar content in the grapes, which is measured in degree Öchsle. The Öchsle requirements for the respective categories vary by growing region.
Riper grapes not only have more sugar but more extract and flavor in the grape, hence a more expressive wine. The higher the ripeness of the grapes used for the wine, the higher up in the pyramid the wine will be categorized.
The categories DO NOT reflect sweetness levels in the finished wine.
Grapes classified as Qualitätswein up to Auslese, can become a dry (Trocken), off-dry (Halbtrocken) or sweet wine. In contrast to the common belief that German wines are all sweet, close to two-thirds of the entire production in Germany is dry. Dry is the preferred vinification style consumed by the German wine drinker.
Dessert wines or noble sweet wines can be in the Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese or Eiswein category. Good examples distinguish themselves by high concentration of fruit and acidity in combination with rich mouthfeel and intense honey-like flavors.
Quality wine PSR
The term 'quality wine produced in specified regions "(Q.b.A) is subject to strict legal requirements. The pressed grapes must come to 100 percent of one of the 13 German wine-growing regions. A varietal purity quality wine must also be typical of the respective variety. A sensoric and analytical examination are mandatory and are confirmed by the check number on the label. If it is stated on the label a particular situation, 85 percent of the grapes must come from there.
Special quality wine
Prädikatswein is the highest level of quality for German wine.
Predicate Wines are allowed to be vinified from only one grape variety from a single German wine region. In this area, the vinifying process must be.
Enrichment with sugar or must is not allowed, an official quality testing is regulated.
There are the following categories:
Usually lighter wines, made from ripe grapes, relatively low alcohol
Spätlese (Late Harvest)
Fuller-bodied wines, made from fully ripened grapes. Because complete ripeness usually requires additional time on the vine, these grapes are normally harvested later in the harvest.
Made from fully ripened bunches; selectively harvested (unripe or diseased berries are discarded)
Full-bodied, fruity wines made from overripe grapes that usually are affected by Botrytis cinerea (noble rot); selectively harvested (berry selection)
Highly concentrated wine made from botrytized grapes dried up almost to raisins; selectively harvested (berry selection)
Eiswein (ice wine)
Made from grapes harvested and pressed while frozen (-7°C or 19.4°F); only the naturally concentrated juice is pressed out.