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Figure Out How to Pick German Wines For Sale at Binny’s Monthlong German Wine Event
This post is sponsored by Wine of Germany.
If you don’t have much experience with German wines, consider yourself in luck: September is German Wine Month at the 40 Binny’s locations across Illinois. Highlights include month long German wine sales and tastings at individual stores. Learn about German wine styles, how to read German wine labels, and wine regions of Germany.
Before I learned more about them, I really avoided German wines. In my mind, Germans were known for outstanding beer. I couldn’t imagine they’d bring the same level of perfection and innovation to their wine industry. Turns out, I was very, very wrong. German wines are known internationally for their Rieslings, ranging from bone dry to dessert sweet. And guess what? There is no guessing with German wine labels. They have all the information you need, right there on the bottle.
Geographical Indicators of German Wine Labels
European wines have a special, terroir specific way of designating wines, and the grapes that are used in the wines. For example, Italian wines of a certain quality often have a DOC label across the bottle, meaning that the wine is from a Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or a controlled denominational origin. More specific and regulated wines may have DOCG, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Guarantita and that is a designation only allowed by very particular producers and regions.
The same sort of designation exists for German wines. The most basic, least regulated wine that is made of German grapes can be called Landwein. If you see that on German wine labels, it simply means that the wine is from the land…of Germany. Simple.
Siphoned down, German wine that is produced from one of the 13 designated wine regions can be deemed Qualitätswein or Prädikatswein. Use of one over the other is not an indicator of quality. If a wine has been given the Prädikatswein designation, it must be parsed down further into one of six different sub-categories. These measure the sugar levels of the grapes at the time of harvest.
Sub-Categories of Prädikatswein: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese (BA), Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA)
Because these words are not only really long, but also total tongue twisters, you deserve a list.
Trocken: Literally, trocken means “dry,” therefore, pick a trocken wine if you are looking for bone-dry wine. (Fun fact: most wine from Germany is bone dry.)
Kabinett: This is wine made with grapes at the most typical time of harvest. The sweetness of the wine will vary from dry to off-dry, with light body.
Spätlese: Translating to mean “late-harvest,” Spätlese wines are typically a bit sweeter than their Kabinett counterparts and has a bit more body to it.
Auslese: Meaning “select harvest,” Auslese wines have grapes that are hand picked for noble-rot.
Beerenauslese: “Berry select harvest,” these wines are made from berried grapes, meaning the grapes are dried to almost raisination before they are hand picked for harvest. These are small serving, dessert wines.
Trockenbeerenauslese: “Dry berry select harvest,” are the last grapes picked before the frost.
Eiswein: Just like it sounds, this is ice wine produced from grapes that freeze on the vine.
You also deserve a lifeline after all this German terminology, so here it is: higher alcohol content means less sugar. I won’t overwhelm you with the science, but basically yeast eats sugar and converts it to alcohol. The more sugar that is consumed, the more alcohol that is produced and the less sweet the wine is. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Other German Wine Labels to Know
If you’re looking to try your first German wines, my recommendation is to start off with a bone-dry Riesling from Mosel. This is the most renowned and well known of wines from Germany, and with good reason. High acidity, green fruit flavors with slightly floral notes are pleasing and easy drinkers. With age, these wines can develop a petrol aroma. Pro Tip: know anyone who loves the smell of a gas station? Give him/her an aged Mosel Riesling.
Sekt: Looking for some bubbles to liven up an occasion? German Sekt is a real treat when you find the right one. These wines are dry, especially the ones that are exports to the U.S., and are priced better than Champagnes. Look for those that have the term “Traditionelle Flaschengärung” on the bottles, meaning made in the traditional method.
Spätburgunder: This is German for “Pinot Noir.” If you find yourself looking for a red wine in Germany, try this one.
German wine labels can be a little daunting, but with a few of these tips, you can shop like an expert. You may even find that you want to wow your friends with a blind wine tasting of German wines. The wines are mouth-wateringly delicious and won’t put you into debt. Prost!
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