German Riesling – Mmm, Mmm, Great Wine!

Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beernauslese, Eiswein, Trockenbeerennaulese. You may know that the German Riesling is a sweet wine. But how sweet is sweet? The Germans have simplified this process by including the information on the label of each wine bottle.

Let’s start with Kabinett: The lightest end of the German wine spectrum. They are the least sweet of the German Rieslings. This wine is great as an aperitif, with oysters, codfish or lobster salad.

Spätlese is next in line for the sweet category. Breaking up the word spat means “late” and “lese” means “harvest”. Put them together it means “late harvest”. These grapes are fully ripened, a little sweeter than Kabinett and typically are more expensive. They pair well with blue cheese (my favorite Maytag), red tuna tartar, chicken tarragon, Chinese cuisine, veal tournedos, smoked fish and Pad Thai.

Auslese wine is made from selected bunches of grapes which have been left on the vine and allowed to become overripe. Some of the grapes have been attacked by Edelfäule (noble rot, a good mold which forms on the grapes as they shrivel up to become raisin-like, extracting the water, but leaving a honey flavor in the grape). Auslese wines pair well with Duck Foie Gras, lamb curry, goat cheese, dark chocolate mousse, Peach Melba and raspberry crème brûlée (burnt crème).

Beernauslese wines are specially selected grapes which have been affected by Edelfäule, choosing the ripest bunches. It is made only in outstanding years and is very expensive. Beernauslese wines are great with cherry dessert, Duck la Orange, Foie Gras, and strawberry tarts.

Eiswein is exactly what it suggests. The wine is made from overripe grapes unaffected by Edelfäule, but left on the vine until caught by frost. The grapes are pressed to separate the frozen water from