Quality Standards Kvalitetsstandarder
Every German quality wine undergoes a critical, blind, sensory examination based on a five-point scale devised by the DLG (German Agricultural Society). The testing procedure is divided into two essential parts: judging whether specific prerequisites have been fulfilled; and the examination of a wine's sensory characteristics.
In the first phase, the tasting panel verifies whether or not the wine is typical of the origin, grape variety and quality category stated on the application for the quality control test number (A.P.Nr.). Color and clarity are also evaluated. The tester answers these questions with a simple "yes" or "no"-points are not awarded at this stage. However, just one "no" among the answers disqualifies the wine from further assessment.
If the wine passes the preliminary examination, the sensory evaluation of bouquet, taste and harmony begins. "Harmony" embraces all the sensory impressions, including color. The overall balance between sweetness and acidity as well as alcohol and body are also considered. Up to five points or fractions thereof can be awarded for each of the three characteristics, with a minimum of 1.5 points (per characteristic) necessary to avoid rejection. The sum total of the characteristics gives an «overall evaluation» that is divided by three to determine the wine's quality rating number - the wine must achieve at least 1.5 points to receive a quality control test number.
The DLG and regional associations use the same testing procedure and "five-point system" to determine which wines merit seals, awards and prizes. These denote wines of superior quality and, in some cases, wine style. As such, they are valuable consumer aids. To qualify for the Deutsches Weinsiegel (German Wine Seal), a wine must achieve at least 2.5 points, i.e. demonstrate higher quality than that required to receive an A.P.Nr. Using a color-coding system, the seals also indicate wine style. Trocken (dry) wines bear a bright yellow seal; lime green seals identify halbtrocken (off-dry) wines; and red seals are reserved for wines that are sweeter.
Note: Erroneously, some people assume that wines bearing a yellow seal are automatically suitable for diabetics (after consulation with a physician). Yet, not all dry wines meet the criteria required to bear the back label the DLG developed to identify wines for diabetics. While the total residual sugar cannot exceed 20 g/l, the glucose content is limited to a maximum of 4 g/l. Thanks to innovations in fermentation technology, it is now possible to produce wine for diabetics in an off-dry style.
The Landwirtschaftskammer (State Chambers of Agriculture) award bronze, silver and gold medals that require a minimum of 3.5, 4 and 4.5 points, respectively. Such prize-winning wines are eligible to enter the annual DLG-Bundesweinprämierung (national wine competition) at which they can win bronze, silver and gold prizes, as well as the ultimate award: Goldener Preis Extra (Gold Prize Extra) for wines that achieve a perfect score of five points.
©2003 Deutsches Weininstitut, info[at]deutschewein(dot)de, Impressum