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Quality class

Regarding wine, see under quality system.

The final decision on the quality of a wine is made by the consumer and, despite all scientifically sound methods of analysis, is a mixture of not purely objective, but largely subjective impressions. Whether a wine "tastes good" also depends on physiological preferences or dislikes (someone doesn't like red wine because they may have had a bad experience due to high histamine levels ), the consumer's cultural background and personal experience. Strictly speaking, experience is subjective, but on the other hand it is an objective criterion ( acidic wines give someone heartburn, which means that such a wine is of poor quality).

The chemist uses objective analyses to describe what the wine is like, while the consumer or wine critic describes subjectively what it tastes like. The former produces the same result when repeated, the latter is not certain. Ultimately, the saying must be accepted: De gustibus non est disputandum (You can't argue about taste). A qualitative wine evaluation in the form of a score 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

Wine quality is influenced by the origin (source), methods of vineyard care (vineyard) and type of vinification (cellar). The practice of categorising wines into quality classes already existed in ancient times, whereby the origin of the grapes has always played a major role in the assessment. From the 1970s onwards, a system based on origin was introduced in many countries. In the 1990s, the EU established a multi-stage quality system with the stages 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 levels or special designations, such as Prädikatswein in Germany and Austria. In the EU countries and to some extent also in the New World, a mostly multi-stage quality wine scheme with various designations is still valid.

EU wine market organisation 2009

An extensively adapted EU wine market regulation with major changes to the quality levels and designations came into force on 1 August 2009. The origin protection system of Community food law was also adopted for wine and the criterion of provenance (origin) was given great importance. Under the new system, a distinction is now made between "wine without a geographical indication" and "wine with a geographical indication". The quality philosophy of "Romanesque wine law", which is modelled on the French appellation system and has always been based on origin for wine, but also for food and agricultural products, has thus been adopted. This is intended to replace the quality hierarchies, which in many countries are sometimes arbitrarily defined by the state and sometimes incompatible with each other, and to link the new levels with clear profiles and make them comprehensible to consumers.

New quality levels

In accordance with a transitional period, wines that were marketed under the "old regulation" before 31 December 2010 could continue to be marketed until stocks were exhausted. However, the Member States were obliged to submit the technical specifications for all names of origin to be protected to the Commission by the end of 2011, as otherwise the international protection for such an origin would have lapsed. The new designations:

  • Wine without variety and vintage with indication of state = e.g. wine from Germany (formerly table wine)
  • Wine with variety and/or vintage with indication of state
  • Wine made from grapes from one EU country, processed in another EU country
  • Wine made from a blend of wines from several EU countries = European wine
  • Wine PGI = Wine with a protected geographical indication = Landwein
  • Wine PDO = wine with 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, "wine produced 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 the European Community"...

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Egon Mark

For me, Lexicon from wein.plus is the most comprehensive and best source of information about wine currently available.

Egon Mark
Diplom-Sommelier, Weinakademiker und Weinberater, Volders (Österreich)

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