Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Guide to German wine labelling

Published:  27 August, 2009

Baffled by German wine laws and labelling? So are we. With the aim of making things clearer to the UK trade, we asked the German Wine Institute to send us the definite explanation of how it all works. They very kindly sent us the following.

5. The German Wine Law
5.1 German Quality Categories
5.1.1 Overview
Among the most important legally required declarations on a label is a wine's quality category. The German wine law makes far more distinctions within the broad quality categories mandated by the European Union wine law than other wine-growing countries.
The ripeness of the grapes at harvest time is a key factor to a wine's quality category. One indication of ripeness is an increasing amount of natural sugar in the grape juice or must. The riper the grapes, the higher the amount of natural sugar in their juice (measured as «must weight» in degrees Oechsle and, hence, the greater the potential quantity of natural alcohol in a wine. The wine law has established legal minimum amounts of natural alcohol that a wine must achieve in order to qualify for a specific quality category. Natural alcohol is of natural origin. It is measured prior to fermentation and prior to implementing cellar techniques to strengthen alcoholic content via concentration or enrichment. Existing alcohol reflects yeast performance, i.e. it is the amount of alcohol that is actually produced when yeast converts the sugar in grape juice during fermentation. It is the amount of alcohol in the bottle, expressed in percent by volume on the label - a mandatory declaration since 1988.