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Understanding Varietals
Pronunciation Glossary
Tasting Terms
How to Taste Wine
How Wine is Made
How Wine is Stored
Wine Regions
Wine Tidbits

Wine Regions
Germany's wine country lies along the Northern limit of the grape. Much above that limit, summers are too short and the sun sends too little warmth for grapes to ripen. Even within the limit, the position is tenuous, because the weather is so variable from year to year. In no other country is viticulture so precarious. Germany produces the lightest, most delicate, low in alcohol, white wines in the world. German wines is overwhelmingly white, with only 18% of its vineyards planted with red varieties. There are nearly 1,400 wine villages and more than 2,600 individual vineyards in Germany.

Germany's wine regions are located primarily in the Southwestern part of the country. They are almost always close to a river which helps to temper the climate. Six of the regions- Baden, the Pfalz, Hessische Bergstrasse, Rheinhessen, the Rheingau and the Mittelrhein- are situated on or near the Rhine. Four other regions are named for their rivers: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, the Ahr, the Nahe and Saale-Unstrut. Most of Franken's vineyards lie along the Main River; most of Wurttemberg's vineyards are found along the Neckar River; and most of Sachsen's line the Elbe River Valley.

Grape Varieties- If at least 85% of a wine is from one kind of grape, the name of the variety may be indicated on the label. The most noble white grape of Germany is the Riesling. It accounts for slightly more than 1/5th of the country's plantings. Muller-Thurgau is the most widely planted grape, with nearly a quarter of the plantings. Silvaner accounts for about 7%. Red grape varieties account for nearly 1/5 of the plantings. The Spatburgunder, or Pinot Noir, produces Germany's finest red wines.

The largest geographical unit for German wine is one of the 13 specified wine-growing regions(see above). It is mandatory to name the region on the label and the wine originate 100% from that region. It is not mandatory to name a smaller appellation of origin, such as a Bereich(district), a Grosslage(collective site) or an Einzellage(individual site), on the label. However, if one of these designations is used, at least 85% of the wine must originate from that appellation.

Ripeness at the time of harvest, or quality category, is indicated on the label by the following terms:
Tafelwein - 1- Deutscher Tafelwein- the everyday wine of the German people. 2- Deutscher Landwein- Dry or medium dry table wines.
Qualitatswein - 1- Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete(QBA)- Quality wine from one of the 13 apecified wine growing regions, the category of the majority of German wines. 2- Qualitatswein mit Pradikat(QmP)- Quality wine with special distinctions, or attributes, the category of the finest German wines.

Each carries one of six special attributes on its label. They are , in ascending order of ripeness at the time of harvest:
A- Kabinett- Normal harvest.
B- Spatlese- Late harvest.
C- Auslese- Selective harvest of very ripe bunches.
D- Beerenauslese(BA)- Selective harvest of very ripe grapes.
E- Eiswein- Wine made from frozen grapes.
F- Trockenbeerenauslese(TBA)- Selective harvest of very ripe, dried-up berries.

Germany's drier wines are labelled Trocken(dry) or Halbtrocken(medium dry). The term Erzeugerabfullung means that the grapes were grown and the wine was produced and bottled by the same frower or cooperative of growers.

For further information contact www.germanwineusa.org.

Material excerpted from German Wines - A Correspondence Course.