How To Read A German Wine Label, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love German Wines

German wine labels are, at first glance, difficult to process: mouthfuls of consonants and extremely long words. They are very informative, some of the most informative in the wine world – once you understand some of the basic terminology. For example, “Erzeugerabfüllung” (say that five times fast!) translates simply to “estate-bottled.”

Take a look at a typical label:


Ripeness refers to sweetness. Here’s a quick reference:

  • Kabinett: dry to off-dry.
  • Spätlese: off-dry to sweet.
  • Auslese: sweet.
  • Beerenauslese: sweet, beginning of dessert wines.
  • Trockenbeerenauslese: very sweet.
  • Eiswein: very sweet.

I hope this helps in your explorations into the world’s greatest wine grape – Riesling!

Ernst Loosen, Doctor of Riesling: Here With Red Slate, Blue Slate, Gold.

Ernst Loosen, the madcap wizard who modernized the reputation of the Mosel, brings his wines and his smarts to B-21, this Saturday. Loosen is a master of innovation and tradition. He made the first German-American hybrids with Chateau Ste. Michelle yet is a vigorous defender of the Mosel’s terroir and precision. He’s been a strong opponent of the new super-bridge over the wine valley. Maybe it’s because he has such a great sense of balance that he’d prefer a tightrope.
He’ll be here from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday for an afternoon of tastings, seminars and sales of a half dozen of his wines, from kabinett to auslese. Laughs by the case are free.



Electrifying JJ Prum: Don’t miss the best of 2010 Mosels.

Katharina Prum
Our girl Katharina Prum

We were privileged to sit down with the great Prum family last month. If you know and love Prum already, move straight to the pre-sale price list below now (and order by Nov.1 if you want them for the holidays). For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the new and exciting German wines, let me introduce you. We met Katharina and her parents and their briskly dry rieslings at a picnic high up the steep Sonnenuhr vineyard and then in the family’s winery in Wehlen on the other side of the Mosel down below. Not many wine lovers get into that sanctum or get that clear a view of three great vineyards. And prime sites were crucial in 2010, another in a decade of great vintages but a challenge in lower grade estates. Not for Prum, with some of the best vineyards in the Mosel. The 2010 Prums are universally bright, crisp and acidic with big aromas of stone fruits and apples, flowers, rocks, smoke and mountain streams. Sorry you weren’t there but you can taste the terroir distincly clean and dry in the glass. The main J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett is a tour of its properties, a cuvée, you can smell the flint and slate of the hills and taste fresh peaches. Wehlener Sonnennuhr, our picnic ground, is sunnier and steep, making wines intense and fresh with perfect finesse. Heavenly Graacher Himmelreich has more apricot than peach, good acids and long finish, while the Badstube in Bernkastel produces the most tropical flavors. Grapes from all of them, whether of Kabinett Spatlese or Auslese ripeness, can come out with dry sophistication. If you want the best of traditional honeyed sweetness, look for the Prum Ausleses with the gold capsules from each of the great vineyards. All these wines will be put to sea soon, so if you want these wines at these prices, to light up your holidays, let me know by Nov.1. This is a grand opportunity for Prum collectors to get their favorites and for wine lovers to taste they’ve been missing. You’re gonna want that.

Riesling Kabinett 750ml

Graacher Himmelreich Spätlese 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 375ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 1.5L

Bernkasteler Badtsube Riesling Auslese 750ml

Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 375ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1.5L

Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese GK 750ml

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese GK 750ml

Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese GK 375ml

Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese GK 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese GK 375ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese GK 750ml

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese GK 1.5L