A frustrating re-occurrence for me was finding a new bottle of wine to go with whatever my friends were serving for the latest dinner party. Veal piccata this weekend, beef bourguignon over the holidays.
When left to my own devices, the group accepted what I brought to the table. It was more baffling when I was instructed to bring a specific type of wine for dessert.
Unfortunately, my ‘go to’ guy at the store was off the day I was looking for the perfect bottle to impress with.
These types of assignments were enough to drive a guy to drink. I’m fortunate to have a brother that worked his way through college at one of the finest French restaurants.
It was known for its wonderful food and perfect ambience to have drinks. Located in North Texas, it included access to a trained sommelier.
My lessons included after hours at a table near the bar. Helping sweep up, and folding napkins allowed me table time.
Eating some cheese that was often on its last leg, along with the last of the baguettes in the kitchen. If it was late, the balcony and couple of cigars were the call of order with the usual setup, fall evenings in our part of Texas, mean a soft 50°, the takeaway was a plethora of knowledge, and a long lasting friendship.
The initial tutelage given to me was on the German wine label. I can’t tell you what we drank that night, but the uniqueness of the German label struck me.
The complexity in the label, isn’t actually complex at all, and it lends to the assisting for us buyers in making an educated decision.
Regulated to include all the necessary information, there are several aspects you will see on these labels, that aren’t required by wine producers and bottlers around the globe.
The German label will point to the vineyard, the grape, the quality of the wine and a style or taste that is indicative to the bottle you are holding.
The design pinpoints where your wine is from. In this example, the vineyard is to the left, (Graacher).
The town or village is presented next to the vineyard, (Himmelreich). This often hard to pronounce line is inclusive to the wine.
Here is where further uniqueness comes into play. The German label will offer the type of grapes used in the production. Because the type of grape used is like a fingerprint, you will be confident that if you want a fruit base, the grapes used in this production lend more in that direction as opposed to a oak, peat, or floral designation.
German wine makers classify the grapes into two categories to ensure German pureness and the sweetness profiles desired. These designations on the label are qualitatswein, (QbA), or pradikatswein.
Qualitatswein recognizes the ability to enrich its wine with chaptalisation processes, while pradikatswein cannot use this enrichment process.
Here is where you get to pinpoint what you’re looking for. There are four main categories, and these four categories break down to 11 sub categories.
The label we are using for an example, offers a Riesling wine that has a Kabinett quality to it, Fruity. The four main categories are,
1-Deutscher Wein, 2-Deutscher Landwein, 3-Qualitätswein feinherb and 4-Qualitätswein.
Then you have the sub categories, and here is what you should expect when choosing from them,
Kabinett trocken-Dry, Spätlese trocken- Dry, Auslese trocken- Dry.
Kabinett feinherb-off dry, Spätlese feinherb- off dry, Auslese feinherb-off dry
Kabinett-fruity, Spatlese-fruity, Auslese-sweet, Beerenauslese-sweet, and finally, Trockenbeerenauslese-sweet.
In conjunction with the above mentioned attributes, German wine production classify dry wines in four classes, trocken, halbtrocken, classic and selection. Trocken is dry with no sweetness. Halbtrocken is a semi-dry wine that allows the slightest hint of sweetness. Classic wines will state ‘Classic’ on the label next to the grape variety. Selection must go above and beyond. The grapes must be from one individual vineyard, harvested by hand. The yield growth is set forth by law and the first release is introduced by September 1 of the following year.
There is a final category, VDP.Classification, and this is based on an in house statute in Germany.
To earn this classification on a label, the wine must be from an approved vineyard and have met the stringent mark of quality. These wines encompass the German wine culture. These wines should define the vineyards, and the regions from which they come from.
The region from where the grapes are grown is included on the bottle. On the example we have shown, you will see, MOSEL.
Mosel is one of the 13 German wine growing regions. In alphabetical order you will see them listed as, Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hessische Bergstraße, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen and Württemberg.
The final mysterious validation of your purchase, is the A.P. number. This is clear to see on the label, and is put there to ensure that we get what we’re buying. This should give you the trust in purchase, that what you are paying for has been validated. The number breaks down like this on our example label, A.P. Nr. 35610241496
3 is the testing center where the wine was approved.
561 designates the village where the producer is located.
024 represents the code number assigned for the producer.
14 is the application number provided for the producer.
96 is the year that the producer filed for the necessary application.
These parameters are established to provide to the consumer a consistent, and reliable bottle of wine to purchase.
Often enough you may not have access to an after-hours sommelier to give you clear direction. There are wine clubs all around that will offer you a plethora of information. It is so because love for wine has not reduce a bit.
Find out what consumers like you are currently into. Get help in shipping cases. Share your stories with others, and catch up on their latest finds. A little information today will pay delicious dividends tomorrow, now, ‘Raise your glasses’.
- Author Bio/Credentials
Sara O Brown is a working mom, lives with her dentist husband and her adorable dog, Casper. She is passionate about traveling and cooking. She has been a regular contributor for–https://www.findrarewhisky.com/whiskylife/