Levels of Sweetness in German Wines
German wines have a wide range of residual sugar contents. But 50 percent of German wines are dry.
A wine may have a maximum of nine grams of residual sugar if it is to be marketed as "dry".
50 Prozent aller deutschen Qualitäts- und Prädikatsweine werden in der trockenen Geschmacksrichtung angeboten.
There are four different tastes in German wines:
Dry is the sweetness level for wines that are almost or completely fermented; this means for wines with a residual sugar content of up to 4g / l. Legislation also permits the term “dry” up to a residual sugar content of 9g if the total acidity expressed in g / l tartaric acid is at most 2g / l lower than the residual sugar content (formula: acid + 2 up to a maximum of 9). A dry wine is not synonymous with acidic. Rather, it is because it only contains a small amount of unfermented sugar, that a higher acidity is more likely to be perceived. Half of all German Qualität and Prädikat wines were marketed in the dry flavour in 2022.
Semi-dry wines may have up to 12 grams of residual sugar per liter, or up to 18g / l if the residual sugar content does not exceed the acidity level by more than 10g. (Formula: acid + 10 up to the maximum limit 18).
Often you can find the term feinherb on wine labels. This unofficial fifth taste is not clearly defined, but is usually classified between semi-dry and sweet. Although it is not officially regulated by wine law, it is becoming increasingly popular.
Semi-sweet wines have a residual sugar content that exceeds the values for semi-dry, but reaches a maximum of 45 g / l.
The statement sweet is permissible from 45 g / l.
How does the sweetness get into the wine?
If the fermentation of the wine is interrupted before the end, for example by cooling, the natural, unfermented sugar from the grape remains in the wine.