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Baden wine comes predominantly from the areas along the upper Rhine and its tributaries; the northern half of Germany is too cold and flat to grow grapes. Riesling and Müller-Thurgau are among the best-known varieties. Traditionally, white wine was more popular than red or rosé, and sweet wine far less popular than dry. The wines have historically been predominately white, and the finest made from riesling. Most of the wine sold in Simonswald is dry, but good restaurants offer a wide range catering to different preferences.
Red wine has always been hard to produce in the Baden climate, and in the past was usually light coloured, closer to rose. However recently there has been greatly increased demand and darker, richer barrique red wines made from the Spätburgunder grape, the German name for pinot noir. The great sites for redwines are often extremely steep so they catch the most sunlight and are difficult to harvest mechanically. Many are also extremely small, and several wines may be produced from grapes of different ripenesses, and different grape varieties. This makes the lists of wines produced long and complex, and many wines hard to obtain as production is limited.
Many wines in Baden are produced using biodynamic or organic farming methods.
"Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete" commonly abbreviated as QbA is a category in the German wine classification, reserved for riper grapes than Deutscher Tafelwein and Deutscher Landwein but lower quality than Prädikat wines.
Occasionally German wine growers who wish to avoid the restrictions of the classification system will sell their wine as QbA even though it is of much higher quality.
"Qualitätswein mit Prädikat" usually abbreviated as QmP is the level in the German wine classification to which almost all quality German wines belong. The wines must be produced from recognised grape varieties grown within one district, which must be declared on the label, and the grapes must reach a prescribed level of ripeness depending on the region and variety.
QmP wines must be further labelled into categories that are determined officially by their ripeness, but in practice are a rough indicator of quality and price. They are ranked by ripeness as:
fully ripened light wines
a late harvest wine
made from selected very ripe grapes, usually sweet
made from individually selected overripe grapes often affected by noble rot, making rich sweet dessert wine
made from selected overripe shrivelled grapes often affected by noble rot making extremely rich sweet wines.
In addition there is the category
Eiswein (ice wine)
made from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, making a very concentrated wine.
Spätlese meaning: "late harvest" is a German wine term for a late harvest wine and is the second category of QmP wine in the German wine classification above kabinett and below auslese in terms of ripeness. The grapes are picked later in the harvest so they are riper and have a higher must weight. Because of the weather, waiting to pick the grapes later carries a risk of the crop being ruined by rain. However in warm years and from good sites much of the harvest will reach spätlese level.
The wines may be either sweet or dry (trocken); it is a level of ripeness that particularly suits rich dry wines from riesling, Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder grapes for example, as at Auslese levels the alcohol levels may become very high in a dry wine leaving the wine unbalanced, making wines with at least some residual sweetness preferable to most palates.
Many Spätlese wines will age well.
The health effects of wine are the subject of considerable ongoing debate and study. It seems that regular consumption of up to 1-2 glasses a day does reduce mortality, lower risk of coronary heart disease, for those over the age of 35. However, with larger amounts the effect is compensated by the increased rate of various alcohol-related diseases, primarily cancers of mouth, upper respiratory tract and ultimately cirrhosis of liver. Originally the effect was observed with red wine. Compounds known as polyphenols are found in larger amounts in red wine, and there is some evidence that these are especially beneficial. One particularly interesting polyphenol found in red wine is resveratrol, to which numerous beneficial effects have been attributed.
However, other studies have shown that similar beneficial effects can be obtained from drinking beer. It is unclear if this means that the only important ingredient is ethanol. A larger than average amount of sulfites in wine (and beer) is said to cause hangovers.
A Schorle (spritzer) is made with wine and soda water. The word comes from the German "sprinkle", i.e. adding water and thus diluting the wine so that it can be consumed in larger, thirst-quenching amounts without the negative effects of alcohol.
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