In the traditional system, fine German wine can be made at six levels of ripeness. Which of the following are in the correct order of ascending ripeness from least to most ripe when the grapes are picked?

A. Spätlese, Auslese, Kabinett, Trockenbeerenauslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein

B. Kabinett, Auslese, Spätlese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein

C. Trockenbeerenauslese, Beerenauslese, Auslese, Spätlese, Kabinett, Eiswein

D. Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Trockenbeerenauslese


The correct order of ripeness—from least to most ripe when grapes are picked—is Kabinett (pronounced CAB-i-net), Spätlese (SCHPATE-lay-zeh), Auslese (OWSCH-lay-zeh), Beerenauslese (Bear-en-OWSCH-lay-zeh), Eiswein (ICE-vine), and Trockenbeerenauslese (TRAUK-en-bear-en-OWSCH-lay-zeh). Historically, because the climate was so marginal, fine German wines were categorized along two dimensions—ripeness and sweetness. While related, these two concepts are very different from one another. Sweetness is measured by the residual sugar in the final wine, unlike ripeness which is determined at the point when the grapes are picked. One final note: although the grapes for most eiswein are picked at a ripeness level that just exceeds beernauslese, in certain years, grapes for eiswein may achieve a ripeness level that surmounts even trockenbeerenauslese. However, such years are not the norm, and uber-ripe eiswein can be so fleshy that it lacks the pristine beauty eiswein is known for.

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