What is Oechsle?

A. Austria’s version of Beaujolais Nouveau, made with spätburgunder (pinot noir)

B. A type of soil famous in Portugal’s Douro Valley, made of layers of minerals that retain heat well

C. Native Hungarian grape variety used to make Tokaji Aszú

D. Scale used in Germany to indicate the ripeness of grapes


Ok, the German was something of a dead give-away, and this wine question was a bit nerdy we admit, but Oechsle is a scale which measures the weight of the grape juice or must before, during, and after fermentation. Developed in the nineteenth century by the physicist Ferdinand Oechsle, the scale gives an indication of ripeness and potential alcohol. The ripeness categories (Kabinett, Spätlese, etc.) of traditional German wines are based on Oechsle levels that are specified for each grape variety and each wine region. Other sugar measurement scales used in winemaking around the world include Baumé, favored in other parts of Europe and Australia, as well as Brix, used in the U.S.

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