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Protected Designation of Origin

Wine quality grade (PDO); see under quality system.

The final decision on the quality of a wine is made by the consumer and, despite all the scientifically based methods of analysis, it is a mixture of impressions that are not purely objective, but largely subjective. Whether a wine "tastes" good or not also depends on physiologically determined likes or dislikes (someone does not like red wine because he or she may have had a bad experience once due to high histamine levels), the consumer's cultural background and personal experiences. Experiences are strictly speaking subjective, but on the other hand they are an objective criterion (with acidic wines someone gets heartburn, which means that such a wine is of poor quality).

The chemist describes by objective analysis how the wine is made, the consumer or wine critic describes subjectively how it tastes. The former brings the same result when repeated, but with the latter it is not certain. In the end, the statement must be accepted: De gustibus non est disputandum. A qualitative wine evaluation in the form of a grading and textual description is determined by professional tastings. There are already attempts to determine the "tastable" quality by means of a glycosyl-glucose assay.

Origin & quality pyramid

The quality of wine is influenced by its origin, methods of vineyard management (vineyard) and the way the wine is made (cellar). The custom of dividing wines into quality classes has existed since ancient times, and the origin of the grapes has always played an important role in the assessment. From the 1970s onwards, an origin-based system was introduced in many countries. In the 1990s, the EU established a multi-stage quality system with the levels table wine (but see there), table wine, country wine and quality wine (or QbA = quality wine from specific growing regions), which was valid until July 2009. In some countries there were also intermediate stages or special designations such as Prädikatswein in Germany and Austria. In the states of the European Union and partly also in the New World, a mostly multi-stage quality wine scheme with different designations was or still is valid.

EU Wine Market Regulation 2009

August 2009 saw the entry into force of an extensively adapted EU wine market regulation with major changes to quality levels and designations. The system of protection of origin under Community food law was also adopted for wine and great importance was attached to the criterion of origin. The new system now distinguishes between "wine without geographical indication" and "wine with geographical indication". Thus, the quality philosophy of the "Romanian wine law", which is modelled on the French appellation system and which has always been based on origin for wine, but also for food and agricultural products, has been adopted. This is intended to replace the quality hierarchies, some of which are arbitrarily fixed by the state in many countries and some of which are incompatible with one another, and to link the new levels with clear profiles and make them comprehensible to the consumer.

New quality levels

Under a transitional period, wines marketed under the "old regime" before 31 December 2010 could continue to be marketed until stocks were exhausted. However, this should not be confused with the obligation for Member States to send to the Commission, by the end of 2011, the technical specifications for all names of origin to be protected, as otherwise international protection for such an origin would be lost. The new designations:

  • Wine without S and J with state = e.g. wine from Germany (formerly table wine)
  • Wine with variety and/or vintage with indication of country
  • Wine made from grapes from one EU country, processed in another EU country
  • Wine from blending of wines from several EU countries = European wine
  • Wine PGI = wine with a protected geographical indication = local wine
  • Wine PDO = Wine with a protected designation of origin = Quality wine/Predicate wine

Qualitäts-Stufen - Wein, Landwein, Qualitäts-/Prädikatswein

A special feature is the possible processing of grapes from one EU member state in another EU member state. For example, this could be "wine made in Austria from grapes harvested in Italy". Wines from third countries are labelled with an indication of the third country, for example "Wine from Chile" or "Wine from Australia". A blend of wines from several third countries, for example a Chilean wine blended with an Australian wine, is labelled "blend of wines from outside...

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