German wine labels can be difficult to understand or even confusing at times. Even though German vintners are acutely aware of this and try to simplify wherever possible, understanding the “code” of the wine label, can actually help a consumer to find the right wine.
Region, ripeness, grape variety and style, as well as the name of the grower or producer, the guarantor of the bottle’s content, are the keys to knowing what to expect from the bottle you purchase at a shop or in a restaurant.
|1| The name and address of the wine estate (Weingut).
|2| The vintage – the year in which the grapes were harvested.
|3| The grape variety.
|4| The quality level of the wine, indicating the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. Read more about the classification system on the following page.
|5| The style of the wine. Here, a dry (trocken) wine. Halbtrocken indicates an off-dry wine. Wines labeled CLASSIC or SELECTION are dry varietals. If none of these terms is on the label, expect a wine with some residual sweetness.
|6| The town (+ “er”) and the vineyard from which the grapes originate. Here, a hypothetical example.
|7| The specified region – in Germany, there are 13 wine-growing regions.
|8| Wines bottled and produced by a grower or a cooperative of growers (Winzergenossenschaft) may be labeled Erzeugerabfüllung. Estates and individual growers can use Gutsabfüllung as an alternative. Other wineries and bottlers are identified as Abfüller.
|9| The quality control number, indicating the wine has passed the chemical and sensory tests required of all German quality wines.