About a year after I graduated from college I went with a group of friends to a “singles” exposition. We had a grand old time, and I must have signed up for a company to come and have a wine tasting party for a group of friends. This is a marketing arm of Pieroth Wine Imports of Burg Layen, Germany. They poured six different wines as my notes tell me, but I did not do a good job recording the proper information (well I was young and this may have been my first formal tasting). At the end of the evening they took a group order which was delivered to me, to disburse among the guests per their order. I was also given as a token of the evening a cork-screw that was inserted through a petrified grape root. I still use this cork-screw to this day.
Since I have some of the notes, but not the proper names of the wines. I will make discuss the wines that were purchased. This was really the first time I had encountered any wines from Germany, so I had no preset knowledge or expectations. I have since had many other wines from assorted regions of Germany that I will discuss at later times.
The first wine was unique to me, a red wine from Germany. It is labeled as a Qualitatswein Rheinpfalz Blauer Portugieser 1974. Now with my rudimentary knowledge of the German language I will try to translate. This is a Quality Wine from the region know as Rheinpfalz. The Rheinpfalz is the largest wine district in Germany, and since it is just listed as a Quality Wine it is probably a blend from many areas with no known pedigree listed. The grape is listed as Blauer Portugieser, which to me would translate as Portuguese Blue grapes, which is not a major grape varietal even for this area.
The next wine is a Nussdorfer Bischofsckreuz Muller-Thurgau Kabinett 1975. At first I thought as I looked at this label that it was perhaps from Austria, as Nussdorf is a city I am aware of in Austria. Then I looked at the label again and there was a notation Anbaugebiet Rheinpfalz, which roughly translates that it is from one of the German Government, guaranteed wine districts the Rheinpfalz. So this wine is also from the Rheinpfalz. There is also a line that states Qualitatswein mit Pradikat, I mentioned about Quality Wine; mit Pradikat means with a Special Word and in this case Kabinett, which is a rather flexible wine term in German Wine Laws, just meaning that the winery feels that this wine is a step up from their basic Qualitatswein. I also must state that only Qualitatswein can have a mit Pradikat. The Pradikat leads into special ratings for wines depending on how late the wine was harvested and how much more concentrated sugar the grapes have. The Bischofsckreuz is the name of the vineyard from the town of Nussdorf. The Muller-Thurgau is the grape varietal, the most common varietal from Rheinpfalz is the Sylavaner grape and the most esteemed is the Riesling grape.
The last wine from this evening was a Burg Layer Schlossapelle Silvaner Kabinett 1976. This wine has the Anbaugebiet Nahe which means that it is from the Nahe wine district (located between the Rheingau wine district and the Moselle wine district). This is a Quality Wine from the vineyard Schlossapelle in the town of Burg Lay made of the Silvaner grape varietal with the designation of Kabinett.
This essay is also a bit of a primer of how to read a German wine label, because there is a lot of information that can be gleamed from the label, once you know what to look for.