Late Harvest German Wines

In Germany, Qualitätswein is a general term to describe wines made from late-harvest or overripe grapes. These wines fall into two categories. First comes the standard wines - the Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA). This merely indicates the wine comes from one of 13 regions, from an approved grape. The ripeness level is tested to ensure the light, fruity, easy-drinking quality.

Of a higher quality is the Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. Discovered by accident in the late 1700s, the technique involves harvesting over-ripe grapes to get an extra sweetness and flavor. These more distinctive wines can be divided into six categories.


: The lightest of these six wines, the grapes are fully harvested. This can be drunk with a meal.


: This is the first 'late harvset' wine. As in other parts of the world, this creates a fruitier, richer flavor, which is also sweeter. This can be drunk with a rich food that can stand up to the flavor, or alone.
Icewine Riedel wine glass


: Another late-harvest, these tend to be intense and very fruity. Some can have a crispness that fend off the sweetness, but most tend to be sweet. Good dessert wine.


: You're moving into ice wine territory here, and the price has begun to go up. The grapes are now over ripe, making a rich, sweet wine that is perfect for dessert or sipping.


: Just as with the ice wines of Canada, these grapes are at the Beerenauslese level, and then harvested and pressed while still frozen. The wine is a pure gold color, sweet, smooth, fruity. Prices can be high.


: Popular since its introduction in 1921, these grapes are not only over ripe but have dried up like raisins. These wines are very rich and sweet, with a honey flavor. Also expensive.

Like ice wines and other sweet wines, these are best served alone for sipping after a meal. They should be served chilled, at around 43F. Not quite fridge temperature, a bit warmer than that.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.