Wine Talk

Snooth User: evadiva10

German Wine

Posted by evadiva10, Aug 16, 2011.

A friend brought me back a bottle of 2010 Silvaner wine from Germany.The bottle says Kabinett Trocken Franken, I'm not familiar at all with wines, can you tell me when I should open it? Thank you


Reply by Birders2, Aug 16, 2011.

Loosely, Kabinett is a table wine, from the first picking of fully ripened grapes, creating a light styled German wine under the German wine control law.

Troken is dry.  To me along the line of a Chardonney.  There is a halb-trocken which mean half-dry, which I would place between a Chardonney and a Kabinett riesling.

Franken is an area of the wine growning region of Germany.

I would definitely serve it with a meal like Wiener Schnitzel (bread veal cutlet, not a hot dog), roasted chicken, meals that are on the greasy side or any place where I would serve Chardonney with the meal. 

A trocken wine, to my spouse (German born) and me, is not a social drinking wine such  as a good Kabinett or Spatlese.  We would serve it with food and then she sometimes find it too dry.



Reply by evadiva10, Aug 16, 2011.

Thank you for your help, does it matter if I open it now, or should it sit in the bottle longer, to age I guess?

Reply by GregT, Aug 16, 2011.

Trocken means dry, as mentioned, and Sylvaner, like Chardonnay or any other grape for that matter, can be made bone dry or very very sweet.  The grape doesn't determine how sweet your wine will be.  The designation of Kabinett means that the grape was picked when it had developed a certain defined amount of sugar in the berries. 

The Germans have a system, called the QmP system, or in English, roughly "Quality wine with Pradikat designation", which designates the grapes as they develop certain amounts of sugar, all the way up till they become raisins with little juice and a lot of sugar.  The Pradikat names are things like Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, etc.  You see them on German and Austrian wines.  They tell you how ripe the grapes were when picked - pretty ripe, really ripe, really super ripe, really really super-duper ripe, and so on.

Remember that when you ferment your fruit, you change sugar into alcohol.  If you turn it all into alcohol and leave no sugar at all, it's called "dry" or in German, "trocken".  If you don't ferment all the sugar, and leave what's called "residual sugar", your wine will seem to have some sweetness - more or less depending on how much sugar you left in the wine. 

So remember that the Pradikat system which gives you names like Kabinett or Spatlese, designates the sugar in grapes at harvest, but that doesn't mean anything about the wine you'll get because that decision is up to the winemaker.  Thus you can have dry Kabinett or quite sweet Kabinett, and moving up, you can have very dry Spatlese and much sweeter ones.

The Pradikat label designates the potential sweetness, the other designates the actual sweetness.  It's unique to the Germans but it's kind of useful. 

The lowest level wines have no designation, or they're QBA.  That stands for a lot of German words but those just mean wines that aren't considered all that special.  Sometimes they're still pretty good tho.

The wines from Franken often come in squat round bottles that look like small flasks.  I'd imagine that the wine was probably $10 to $15 or so.  It should be nice and crisp, maybe with some sour apple notes and Sylvaner sometimes has a slight floral note too. Usually not woody, just direct and simple.  Should be good with fish maybe or whatever you'd have a dry white with.  I wouldn't keep it either. Drink it pretty soon and chill it first.

Reply by Birders2, Aug 16, 2011.

I agree with GregT that I would not keep the Sylvanner much more than a year or so, if I did not want to drink it sooner.  I do have a habit that may mean nothing more than being a habit:  I usually wait for a couple of months after I receive a bottle of white wine and six months for a red for it to rest from its travel.  Never done a blind tasting to see if it is true, but it always seems to me that when I drink a second or third bottle from the same purchase that have rested, they taste better.  Maybe, just my thing, as those people insist on bottled water is better than tap..

As Greg pointed out you can have a Spatlese trocken, to which my original comments would not apply; as it would definitely be a wine one can enjoy sociably, to be consumed independent of a meal or with.  I would place a spatlese trocken  wine to be enjoyed when you want a richer (sweeter) German wine than a Kabinett, without the REAL sweeter taste of a spatlese .  I have never seen a white German marked Auslese trocken; although there are Spatburgunder Auslese trocken (a dry Pinot Noir).

Other terms that are used with Germany wines: 

Goldkapsel -- Used to indicate that the producer thinks the wine is better than average in intensity or sweetness.

Stars -- one to three that further indicate that the ripeness is higher than the minimum standard.

Auction - Usually means a German wine produced in small quantities of special quality and sold by the producer through an auction, instead of the normal channels of distribution.

In normal German efficiency, the label and the capsule can tell you just about everything you want to know about the bottle you are enjoying

Prosit! (May it be good!)




Reply by CageyT, Aug 16, 2011.

Great and informative response, Greg T-- I'd like to follow up on would you compare that varietal with Riesling, both in terms of palate and habit?  I am considering planting a bit here in the Finger Lakes "for fun and giggles"...

Reply by GregT, Aug 17, 2011.

Well Cagey, first of all, don't do ANYTHING based on a suggestion from me!!

Second, Riesling rocks. That means it's complex and capable of infinite variety just by modifying a few parameters.  I suppose other wines are also capable of that, but they're not as complex inherently as Reisling is.  With Chardonnay for example, we leave it on the lees, put it in wood, put it thru malolactic fermentation, etc., or don't do any of those things and in each case, we're doin gstuff that gives the wine something the grape doesn't provide inherently.  Not that any of those things are bad mind you, it's just that on its own, Chardonnay doesn't have a hell of a lot of personality.

With Riesling, you don't need to do a lot to craft an interesting wine.

Sylvaner is a bit less inherently interesting and perhaps more floral.  Its flavors and aromas are somewhat more muted. You don't get that exhuberent pineapple, apple, and citrus. In some cases of course, that may be what you want and obviously, grapes perform differently in different regions. In newer areas, we have to learn.  Perhaps the Sylvaner you plant will be magnificent. That's not a stretch - Malbec found a home in Argentina that nobody would have predicted fifty years ago in France.

So my suggestion, and it's not a way to riches, is try it if you're really interested.  I guess I'd do some research on the grapes that grow in similar climates.  Soil seems less important - you need to see the sun hours and average range of temps to see what you can get ripe and then you can make some decisions.  I think the Finger Lakes should be looking at all the German and Hungarian grapes.  And Chenin Blanc.  Maybe even some things that they'd grow in Tyrol, who knows.

I'd sure love to try some Sylvaner if you ever planted it tho!

Reply by CageyT, Aug 19, 2011.

Thanks again GregT and also Birders2.  I have about 30 vines of Sylvaner on order... we'll see what we come up with in experimental mode.

Reply by Bordoo, Aug 19, 2011.

A couple of additions to what's already been said,

Along with QmP and QBA designated wines from Germany, one can also get wines marked Tafelwein or Table wine.  So a Kabinett, or any QmP wine, while they are table wines, should not be thought of German table wine.  That's clear, right?

Where trocken or halbtrocken are stated on the label,  they control over the Pradikat designation.  A trocken Spatlese can be vinified fully dry.

I have had some decent Sylvaners and I find them more common in the market of QmP wines than they used to appear.

That said, IMO Riesling can make the finest white wines in the world and to me, that is the comparison.  All else equal, given Riesling and Sylvaner on a shelf, I would always go Riesling.

Reply by steve666, Aug 19, 2011.

Spatlese refers to late harvest, Auslese is a later harvest.  Usually Spatlese are somewhat sweet, Auslese a bit sweeter, and then there are beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese which are incredibly complex white wines, when made from riesling or other german grapes, and are heaven itself.  They are unabashedly sweet, often 10% or more residual sugar, and interestingly they are purported to last decades.   Let me also say that there are some lovely unoaked Chardonnay bottles of late -- I don't drink Chardonnay unless I am forced to, but have had a few good glasses of late. 

Reply by steve666, Aug 19, 2011.

PS  beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese are also used in conjunction with some french wines.... I'd wikipedia the definitions.

Reply by Andrew Schofield, Aug 20, 2011.

Silvaner does usualy not improve with bottle age. It has a flowery bouquet and is a classic accompanie with white asparagus. Drink now.

Reply by duncan 906, Aug 28, 2011.

I visited Germany earlier this year and made the mistake of ordering a bottle of German red in the restaurant and was seriously dissa pointed as it was barely drinkable

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