The type of wine produced is named partly from the grape that it is created from. A Reisling, for example, comes from the Reisling grapes. Though soil conditions, harvest times, aging, and weather can greatly effect the flavor of the wine, the grape itself is the first stop in creating a fantastic wine.
Riesling: Hailed as a “noble king,” the “Ferrari” of white wines, the Riesling grape is not only the most frequently planted along the Mosel, but also the most respected. From quality aged Spätlesen, spicy sparkling wines, and fine dessert wines, this grape is packed with flavor, acidity, and potential. The belief that only reds can age is false. A good Reisling can age well between 50 and 100 years.
Müller-Thurgau: Over 20% of the Mosel’s wine production comes from this cross of Reisling and Gutedel grapes. Light and flowery, high quality wines from this grape are rare. Do not age it. These wines are best consumed young.
Elbling: An old variety of white grape, the Elbling produces light, yet tart wine that is used predominately for sparkling wine. This grape accounts for 9% of the MSR’s grape production.
Kerner: This white grape is a popular crossing of the Reisling and Trollinger and while its wines are quite similar to many Reislings, it tends to be less acidic and more fragrant.
Bacchus: This grape is a cross breed of Silvaner, Reisling, and Müller-Thurgau grapes which has produced a distinctive aromatic wine with a strong fruity taste. Only 200 hectares of Bacchus are cultivated in the MSR.
Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir): Only 3 % if the Mosel vines produce this grape, so these wines are fewer, but as growers concentrate on producing finer quality red wines, their popularity is growing. Be wary of pink flavorless wines, but don’t be surprised to see some rich reds sold at higher prices. They are becoming more prevalent and more popular as quality increases.
Strict rules, testing, and quality standards will determine what wine category you find on the label. The Tafel and Land wines are created from a normally ripe grape while the Qualitätsweins are created from ripe, very ripe, and overly ripe grapes.
Deutscher Tafelwein: A simple table wine.
Deutscher Landwein: A higher quality table wine with a higher alcohol content.
Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA): A higher quality wine subject to strict testing.
Qualitatswein mit Prädikat (QmP): A high quality wine with more restrictions than the QbA wines.
These are listed in order of harvest, the first having the youngest grapes. As the length of time on vine affects the sugar content and complexity of flavors, it also affects the cost as the sweeter dessert wines costing more than the more common Kabinett varieties.
Kabinett: Created from the first harvest of fully ripened grapes, these wines are delicate and light and have a lower alcohol content.
Spätlese: Translated as “late harvest,” these wines are produced from riper grapes and thusly have a more developed flavor, but are not necessarily sweet.
Auslese: A very late harvest wine from grapes selected by cluster, these wines are more intense than the earlier harvests, but not always sweet.
Beerenauslese (BA): Rare, created only from individually chosen, overripe grapes as weather conditions permit, these wines can be stored for decades. Richly sweet dessert wines, they are also delicious alone.
Eiswein: A specialty of the Mosel, it’s produced from grapes that are harvested and pressed while frozen. The flavor is unique and delicious. A sipping wine good alone or with an equally rich dessert.
Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): Very rare, this wine is created from grapes that have dried on the vine almost to the raisin stage. The richest and sweetest wine, it has a shelf-life longer than the others.
These descriptors are used frequently and tend to vary greatly from very sweet to slightly dry within the halbtrocken category.
Halbtrocken: Half-dry, yet sometimes sweet
Süss: Very sweet