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A Wine Glossary

Only healthy, fully ripe grapes are used for Auslesen, with sick and unripe fruit removed. The Auslese process results in a high use of the crop. The minimum Mostgewicht [sugar content of the must] for Auslesen is 100 degrees Oechsle. Auslesen are the best wines for special occasions and captivate through the enchanting fullness of their bouquet and their beguiling aroma.

Originally merely a French measure of wine (Barrique = barrel, as a rule 225 litres, but of varying amounts). Wine is stored in these barrels in order to achieve a specific wood flavour. Red wines are barrique-matured in order to lend them a marked tannin character. The “barrique” tone (tannin and flavour components from the barrel wood) has attracted increasing interest from buyers and is particularly suitable for powerful red and white wines.

Beerenauslesen are wines made from overripe grapes affected by noble rot [Botrytis cinerea], which must demonstrate a minimum Mostgewicht [sugar content of the must] of 125 degrees Oechsle. The grapes are no longer subject to the natural maturation process but require an infestation by the noble rot, which makes the grape skin porous so that water can evaporate, leading to a strong concentration of the grape juice, responsible for the golden colour, the honey-like aroma, the content of aromatic substances, and an unmistakeable wine.

Eiswein is a particularly rarity, and since 1982 has enjoyed its own rating (Prädikat). It is made from grapes which have been harvested at a temperature of at most -7 oC, being frozen on harvesting, which must also be pressed while frozen. The removal of water through the frost has the natural effect of concentrating the grape juice. Content, aroma, fruit and a fine acidity make this wine a speciality which cannot be described but only tasted and enjoyed. The Mostgewicht [sugar content of the must] is a minimum of 125 degrees Oechsle.

Fränkische weinprämierung [Franconian wine awards]
The gold, silver or bronze medals of the Franconian wine awards are coveted distinctions at regional level. Wines are examined by a selected committee and receive medals according to their scores.

Fränkisch trockene wein [Franconian dry wine]
Wines of this type have a residual sugar content of up to c. 4.0 g/l.
In these wines, connoisseurs and lovers of dry wines find the primary matter which has heart and soul and which fully expresses the character of the variety as well as the particular characteristics and palatability of Franconian wines.

Wine should be stored at a constant temperature. The ideal cellar temperature is between 12 °C and 17 °C. For longer storage periods, it is important that bottles are laid flat, so that the wine bathes the cork and keeps it moist; otherwise it would quickly dry out and become porous to air. Valuable wines should only be drunk after they have been stored in a cool place for several days after transport. Immediately after agitating, a wine tastes unbalanced and impenetrable.

The sugar content of grape must, measured in Oechsle degrees. The “natural alcohol content” may be calculated from the Mostgewicht, which the vintner determines using a Mostwaage (balance) or refractometer.

Oechsle degree

Unit of measurement for the specific weight of grape and fruit juice (must), determined with the aid of an Oechsle balance. Due to its content of sugar and other ingredients, the specific weight of must is always greater than the value of water of 1.000. The value after the decimal point states the specific weight of a sample of grape must in Oechsle degrees, e.g. a specific weight of 1080 corresponds to 80 °Oe (= Oechsle degrees).

Qualitätswein (Q.b.A)
International term for wines of a higher quality category, which meet legally defined minimum requirements.

Grape phylloxera

Dangerous insect pest of vines, introduced with imported rooted vines from North America into Europe around 1860, where within two decades it almost entirely destroyed the vine population. The phylloxera sucked the root sap, causing the vine to die off. Winegrowers were obliged to shift to grafting European vines onto American “rootstocks” which were resistant to phylloxera.

During the dormant season, in winter or early in the New Year, vines are pruned by hand. The network of vines from the previous year is cleaned out so that only one or two of the strongest canes remain standing.
Assuming general knowledge and awareness of quality, the growth potential of the vine is managed through correct pruning, which also defines its age and health, as well as the right balance between quality and quantity.

Residual sweetness
The residual sugar content of the wine after the fermentation process has been concluded or artificially interrupted. The term is an unfortunate choice, since a fully fermented wine may have a “sweet reserve” added. The amount of residual sweetness, in particular the ratio of alcohol to residual sugar, is not arbitrary but is regulated by law. Above all, a certain residual sugar content gives an acidic wine an agreeable rounding off, while excessive residual sweetness conceals the finer taste components.

The overall acid content of a grape must is normally 7-9 g/l for varieties of white wine, and 5-7 g/l for red wines. It consists of tartaric acid, malic acid as well as lactic and succinic acids. Tartaric acid is the “backbone” of a wine, contributing to the character of its taste and also defining its durability (storage). Its relationship to alcohol content is, besides other factors, a significant component of harmony.
The proportion of tartaric acid also depends on the grape variety. In unripe wines, malic acid predominates. For poor vintages, excess acids may be removed in legally restricted amounts or the taste sensation reduced. Over the years, acidity falls naturally. For this reason, wines which initially demonstrate high levels of acidity due to the grape variety (e.g. Riesling) should not be drunk during their first 1-2 years of life, but allowed to rest until a harmonious balance has been reached.

Serving temperature

The most suitable serving temperatures are:
Sparkling wine 6-8 °C
Light white wines, Rosé 8-10 °C
Good-quality white wines, Spät- and Auslese 10-12 °C
High-quality white wines, high-quality (Prädikat) 12-14 °C
Simple red wines 14-16 °C
Powerful, high-quality red wines 16-18 °C
Mature, great red wines 18-19 °C

Spätlesen are substantial wines from fully ripe grapes, which may be harvested no earlier than seven days after the start of the general harvest. The minimum Mostgewicht lies between 85 and 90 Oechsle degrees, according to the variety of grape. These wines are distinguished by their maturity, elegance and rich fullness of flavour. Spätlesen are a speciality of German winegrowing, which, particularly in good years, are highly sought after worldwide.

Sweet reserve

Unfermented must which is added to a matured wine before bottling in order to round off the flavour, thereby making wines with dominant acidity more agreeable and attractive, as well as expressing the fruit more strongly. Most of the must is fully fermented, although a small proportion (5-20%) of it is retained and its fermentation prevented through filtration, heating or CO2 pressure, so that the sugar is retained.

The mass of grapeskins, pips and stalks remaining after pressing. On average, 100 litres of mash produces 25 kg of marc. Marc is further processed into marc brandy or used as an organic fertiliser.

Trockenbeerenauslesen are of a higher level of quality than Beerenauslesen, and represent the pinnacle of natural sweetness, richness of flavour and fullness of scent in German winegrowing. These noble sweet wines are pressed from shrunken raisin-like berries with noble rot. The minimum Mostgewicht amounts to 150 Oechsle degrees. The very low must yield, the enormously high use of the vintage, the high risk of leaving grapes hanging for a long time and the labour-intensive maturation in cellars make this wine a minor treasure. In some cases, Trockenbeerenauslesen may be stored for a century or even longer and after longer periods still provide unusual taste experiences. They are drunk out of small, fine glasses on very special occasions.

The mixing of wines from different vintages, varieties of grape and origins. Blends require great practical experience on the part of the cellar master and represent a true art, which is often misunderstood as “adulteration”. In principle, however, blending is nevertheless legally restricted, in so far as indications are imposed regarding vintage, variety of grape and origin.

Wine stones (Tartrate crystals)
Largely indissoluble potassium salts of tartaric acid, precipitated out as rhombic crystals, which may form a deposit in bottled wines. Wine stones are a natural component of must and wines, are taste-neutral and hence no cause for objection, but rather a sign of quality, since tartaric acid occurs in higher relative concentrations in ripe grapes than in unripe ones (which contain more malic acid).


In must and wine, only fructose, glucose and to a small degree, cane sugar (saccharose) play a role. Through the action of yeasts, these may be transformed during fermentation into alcohol and carbon dioxide, although they also serve as a source of nutrients for other unwanted microorganisms (bacteria, fungi); wines with residual sweetness must thus be bottled under sterile conditions;
The law permits the addition of cane sugar to enrich wines, which is then decomposed by yeasts into fructose and glucose; no alien substances may thus be added to wines. Sweetening with cane sugar is not permitted.