German wine label
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A German wine label can offer a wealth of information for the consumer, despite the reputation they traditionally have of confusing laymen. Jon Bonné, MSNBC Life Style editor describes German wine labels as a "thicket of exotic words and abbreviations" that require "the vinous equivalent of Cliff notes to parse."
German wine law regulates that at least six items of information be present on the label.
- Name of the producer or bottler (e.g.: Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach)
German wine domaines/"châteaux" are often called "Kloster", "Schloss", "Burg", "Domaine" or "Weingut" followed by some other name.
- A.P.Nr Amtliche Prüfnummer Quality control number (e.g.: 33050 031 04)
The first number (1-9) relates to the German wine region where the wine was produced and tested (e.g. 3-Rheingau). The second 2 or 3 digit number indicates the village of the vineyard (e.g. 30-Rauenthal)). The next two digits represents the particular wine estate (e.g. 50-Kloster Eberbach). The following 2 to 3 digit number is the sequential order that the wine was submitted by that producer for testing (e.g. 031 - this was the 31st wine submitted by Kloster Eberbach for testing). The final two digits is the year of the testing, which is normally the year following the vintage (e.g. 04 - the wine was tested in 2004).
- Anbaugebiet, i.e. region of origin (e.g.: Rheingau)
- Volume of the wine (e.g.: 750ml)
- Location of the producer/bottler (e.g.: Eltville)
- Alcohol level (e.g.: 9.0% vol)
Though not required, German wine labels may also include
- Grape variety (e.g., Riesling)
- Prädikat level of ripeness (e.g., Spätlese)
- Vintage year (e.g., 2003)
- Taste, such as dry (trocken) or off-dry (halbtrocken)
- Vineyard name (e.g.: Rauenthaler Baiken, a single vineyard). The village name (e.g.: Rauenthal") is normally identified by the possessive form "-er" suffix and is sometimes followed by the vineyard name ("Baiken").
- If the wine is estate-bottled (Erzeugerabfüllung or Gutsabfüllung), bottled by a co-op (Winzergenossenschaft), or by a third party bottler (Abfüller).
- Address of the winery
- The logo of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter, or more commonly VDP) which is awarded to the top 200 producers, as voted among themselves. The logo is a black eagle with a cluster of grapes in the center. The winery in the image example has the VDP logo. While not a guarantee, the presence of the VDP logo is a helpful insight into the quality of the wine.