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The Best Wineries
In Germany

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German wine labels are very informative once all the information given can be identified and interpreted. While many other wines will list only the producer, vintage, region, and country; German labels will state the ripeness level of the grapes used, the grape, the vineyard, and a style or taste indication.

Click on the label for detailed information.

Appellation of origin - wine growing region

To identify the region, compare with the following list of the 13 German wine-growing regions:
Ahr, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Franken, Hessische Bergstrasse, Württemberg, Baden, Saale/Unstrut, Sachsen.

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Vintage

The vintage is the year in which the grapes were harvested. Wine is an agricultural product and consequently very dependent on the weather, which in Germany, unlike in more southern climates, can be extremely variable.

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Producer vs. Bottler

Name of producer or estate; in this case the producer is "von Schleinitz."

There are about 100,000 grape growers in Germany, yet only about one fourth as many wine producers. If the label indicates "Erzeugerabfüllung" (estate bottled), it assures you that the grapes were grown and the wine was produced by one and the same grower or cooperative of growers (Winzergenossenschaft). As an alternative to "Erzeugerabfüllung", estates and growers that grow, produce, and bottle their own wine can use the term "Gutsabfüllung" on the label. The grower or collective group of growers is responsible for and guarantees the quality of the wine. Sometimes the bottlers or shipper will assume responsibility and will be identified on the label as "Abfüller."

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AP - NUMBER

The ap nr or "Amtliche Prüfnummer", meaning "official approval number" identifies the wine and is required for all QbA and QmP wines.
It consists of several blocks of numbers identifing the wine like

1    649   617   1 95

1 stands for the testing center, where the wine was approved

649 stands for the village in which the winery is located that produced the wine

017 is the code number for the winery

1 95 reflects, this is the 1st bottling of the winery of the specified growing area (1) tested in the year 1995 (no necessary relation to the vintage of the wine but most often the year after the vintage)


This coding enables the official testing centers to identify a wine. If there is any complaint or doubt of authenbticity of the wine, sealed bottles which the winery has to keep for a number of years can be cross checked and tasted to investigate.

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Ripeness Categories

The ripeness categories are Tafelwein, Qualitätswein and Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. The latter is further divided into the ripeness levels Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauselese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. More about that on our Ripeness Pyramind page.

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Degree of Dryness

The taste and style in terms of sweetness of a wine depend on the cellar master and are determined in the cellar; totally independent of the grape. This is not to be confused with quality category, or ripeness, (see Ripeness Pyramid page) which depends on the weather and is determined in the vineyard.

Whether a wine is dry or sweet can be indicated on the label. Trocken indicates dry wine without perceptible residual sweetness. It never contains more than 9 grams of residual sugar per liter and often less. It is very dry. Halbtrocken wines are semi-dry and may have not more than 18 grams of residual sugar per liter. With this barely perceptible sweetness, halbtrocken wines are considered "dry" by most wine lovers. If these terms are not found on the label, the wine is likely a sweeter style and usually the sweetness increases with increasing ripeness.

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Village and Vineyard

The often difficult to pronounce names on the label indicate the village where the vineyard is located (identified by the -er suffix) followed by another name (often ending in -berg [=mountain, slope] indicating the vineyard site. Proprietary names like "Liebfraumilch" and "Bishop of Riesling" have no vineyard designation; they are a blend of wines from several vineyards.

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Grape variety

The grape variety used to make a wine is the single most influential factor determining its taste. Different grapes have different flavors, just like different fruits have different flavors. For example: Riesling is a very fruit-driven variety, while Gewürztraminer has very floral, perfumed flavors reminiscent of rose petals. In comparison, Chardonnay is a very spicy grape with elements of grapefruit and apple. Please check the glossary / FAQ for more detailed information on grape varieties.

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Appellation of origin - wine growing region Vintage Quality Category Taste Category - Sweetness level Village and Vineyard Bottler vs. Producer Grape AP Number Name of Producer/Estate