How To Read A German Wine Label - Part I

Sweet ^______^

If you are in love with Sweet White Wine, Germany Riesling is definitely your beloved (except Trocken). However, German wine label is never easy to read.

Kabinett (Cabinet)
Fully ripened light wines from the main harvest, it is the lightest and usually driest from the QmP wines. They make great apertifs, and pair well with ham, chicken, fish, and seafood. They are never considered as sweet, and labeled as Trocken (Dry).

Spätlese (Late Harvest)
The grapes are harvested about a week later than the main harvest. They are fuller and richer in body than Kabinett (which is due to a higher sugar content). Often (but not always), they are sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. However, they are sometimes made in a Trocken (Dry) or Holbtrockenk (Medium Dry) style that pairs well with spicy cuisine and heartier chicken, pork, or seafood dishes. They are also delicious on their own, showing great balance of spicy fruit and crisp acidity.

Basically, the gold capsule wines have one ring at the bottom of the capsule, and the long gold capsule wines have two rings.

Auslese (Select Harvest)
Made from selected bunches of very ripe grapes, these wines tend to be on the sweet side, yet still exhibit some crisp acidity on the finish. The grapes are often "botrytized" or (a wine covered in mold, Botrytis cinerea), lending rich honeyed flavors. These are among Germany's finest and most characteristic wines, and should be enjoyed on their own. Some growers distinguish their finer "reserve" bottlings by using a Goldkapsel (Gold Cap) or Lange Goldkapsel (Long Gold Cap) over the cork, indicating richer, rarer, and more expensive Auslese. They can cellar for decades.