Blick auf die Weinberge rund um die Marienburg in Zell Mosel. © Philipp Bohn

Wine knowledge - history and technical terms

Interesting facts about the wine from Zell

The Moselle makes its way through narrow valleys, along steep slopes and past romantic wine villages, castles and palaces until it finally flows into the Rhine in Koblenz. Here, where Celts and Franks left their traces and where the Romans settled more than 2,000 years ago, you will walk in the footsteps of an impressive past and a great wine-growing tradition. The Moselle wine-growing region (formerly "Mosel-Saar-Ruwer") is the fifth largest of the 13 German wine-growing regions with a vineyard area of approx. 9,000 ha and many million vines. The winegrowers on the Moselle, and thus also in Zell, are true Riesling specialists and produce unique, fine and fruity wines that justifiably have a world reputation. The wines from the Zell vineyard "Zeller Schwarze Katz" are known nationwide and are a real export hit.

Riesling is the dominant grape variety in Zell (Mosel) and also in the entire Mosel wine-growing region. Of course, other grape varieties are also cultivated in addition to Riesling. These include Müller-Thurgau, Elbling, Kerner or Bacchus. The Moselle also offers ideal growing conditions for red grape varieties such as Dornfelder and Spätburgunder. As is the case throughout the Moselle, steep slope cultivation in Zell is very time-consuming and labour-intensive, as it requires a great deal of manual work. In addition to steep and escarpment vineyards, our growing region is characterised by its sunny climate and slate soils, which shape the wines and give them a very special note.

On this page you will find some information on the quality levels and can read up on technical terms in the "wine lexicon". We also recommend the "Pissamann" wine trail in the district of Merl, where you can find out all kinds of information about the work in the vineyard and the grape varieties on a total of 15 panels. Information on this can be found on the website of the Merler Weinfreunde.

Quality levels of German wine


  • only low quality requirements

  • no indication of grape variety necessary

  • from 44° Oechsle


  • upmarket level of Tafelwein

  • Indication of the region from which the grapes originate

  • from 47° Oechsle

Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (Q.b.A.):

  • Designation for wines of higher quality classes

  • must originate 100 % from one of the 13 German wine-growing regions

  • from 55° Oechsle

Riesling Hochgewächs:

A designation introduced in 1987 for a "type wine of special origin" that may only be pressed from the Riesling grape variety. They must have at least 7° Oechsle more must weight than the prescribed minimum value and a natural alcohol content that is at least 1.5 % vol. above the guideline values applicable for the growing region. In the test for the official test number, the wines must score at least 3.0 (instead of 1.5) points.

© Philipp Bohn

Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (Q.m.P.):

These wines are awarded one of 6 predicates depending on their degree of maturity, i.e. their must weight and the harvesting method, which must always appear on the labels. The quality wines are:


  • light, delicate wines with moderate alcohol content from ripe grapes

  • with a minimum must weight of 73° Oechsle or higher


  • Ripe, elegant wines with fine fruit, which are harvested later

  • from 80° Oechsle


  • noble wine from fully ripe grapes (small portion of overripe berries)

  • at least 88° Oechsle


  • full, fruity wines from predominantly overripe or noble rotten berries

  • high degree of ripeness and high must weight

  • often has the aroma of botrytis noble rot, the colour is reminiscent of amber

  • can be stored for a long time

  • from 110° Oechsle


  • only raisin-like shrivelled and noble rotten berries, without exception overripe grapes

  • extreme ageing ability over decades

  • at least 150° Oechsle


A wine made from fully ripe grapes frozen on the vine, where the berries' contents have been concentrated by frost. A temperature of at least -7° C must prevail during harvesting in the vineyard.

The grapes may only be harvested and pressed in a frozen state, so that only the concentrate with its strong aroma and sugar content is pressed out. The must weight must be at least that of a Beerenauslese.

Impressions - working in the vineyards of Zell

Während der Weinlese in den Weinbergen von Zell an der Mosel
Weinlese bei Sonnenschein in Zell Mosel
Abschneiden von Trauben während der Weinlese in Zell Mosel
Ein Mann leert seine Traubenbütte in den Erntewagen aus
Die Weinlese in Zell an der Mosel
Rieslingtrauben in den Erntekisten während der Lese in Zell Mosel
Eine Gruppe von Erntehelfern während der Weinlese in Zell Mosel
Leseystem während der Weinlese in Zell an der Mosel

The new dry quality pyramid of German wines

Have you ever looked at the label in confusion when shopping for wine and wondered what the new sonorous names "Classic" and "Selection" actually mean? No problem - here is the most important information in brief:


If you buy a wine with the signet "Classic" on the label, you can expect a wine with the taste picture "harmoniously dry". Classic wines are full-bodied, powerful and aromatic and meet high quality standards. Classic signals:

  • a wine made from a classic grape variety typical of the region. Permitted grape varieties in the Mosel are: Riesling, Rivaner, Elbling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

  • the residual sugar is limited to a maximum of 15 g/l

  • the alcohol content is at least 11.5 %

  • the flavour dry is not found on the label!


The term Selection signals to the wine lover a dry top-quality wine from a grape variety typical of the region. Low yields and a high minimum must weight ensure excellent wines. During a sensory examination, Selection wines are tested for their varietal-typical aromas and elegance. For a wine to be allowed to call itself Selection, many conditions must be met. Selection means:

  • only selected sites are considered for the cultivation of Selections wines

  • grape varieties typical of the region

  • low yield (60 hl/ha maximum)

  • the minimum must weight is 88° Oechsle

  • the grapes may only be harvested by hand

  • the residual sugar is limited to a maximum of 9 g/l (exception: Riesling)

  • the indication of the single vineyard, the grape variety and the vintage on the label is added

  • the flavour dry is not on the label!

A special treat in autumn - the Federweisser!

When the leaves turn colour in autumn and the first grapes are harvested, the time for Federweisser arrives shortly afterwards. During fermentation, yeast fungi come into action in the barrels with the new must. They convert the sugar in the grapes into alcohol and carbonic acid, turning the must a whitish colour. Its milky, cloudy colour is reminiscent of a thousand swirling little feathers, hence the name Federweißer. In other regions it is also called Rauscher, Sauser or Bitzler.

Federweisser is a drink with almost all the taste characteristics that the new vintage will have later. It contains many vitamins, especially vitamin B1 and B2. Many winegrowers, vinotheques and Straußwirtschaften (wine taverns) offer this delicacy and together with a piece of onion tart it is a very special pleasure experience - why not try it for yourself!

Wine lexicon - technical terms around wine

A - J

Amtliche Prüfungsnummer (A.P.Nr.)

Every German quality and predicate wine must bear an inspection number as proof of the existing official inspection. The multi-digit number is made up of several details, including the number of the inspection body, the place, the farm number of the producer's farm, the inspected lot and the year of inspection.


225l Limousin oak barrels. The wines from these have a slight harmonious lohtone (wood tone).


A grey mould fungus. Causes noble rot of white, almost ripe grapes (from 70 degrees Oechsle) in autumn in a favourable climate. In the process, the fungus perforates the berry skin, thus promoting water evaporation and releasing metabolic products into the berry juice. These give the wine its aroma. If the botrytis fungus attacks grape berries that are not yet ripe or are injured, raw rot or sour rot of the grapes occurs in wet weather.


Means the improvement of grape must. The name goes back to the Napoleonic Minister of Agriculture.


French for a blend of wines


Blending of sparkling base wines to obtain a consistent flavour.


Disgorgement of sparkling wine.


Decanting the wine into a carafe, which removes the deposit and oxygenates the wine.


Sediment (precipitate/lees) in the wine. It is removed by decanting and is not a sign of poor quality!

Deutsches Weinsiegel

Serves as orientation. Certifies special quality because wines with this distinction must be rated at least one point better than was required to obtain the official test number. The colour yellow indicates dry, green semi-dry and red sweet.


Addition of sugar dissolved in the wine during sparkling wine production.

Filling dosage: serves to initiate the second fermentation Shipping dosage: serves to tune the finished fermented sparkling wine or sparkling wine.


The term producer bottling may only be used for products made exclusively from grapes harvested and vinified on the producer's own holding.


Refers to a substance transformation that is brought about in organic substances by ferments. Alcoholic fermentation is characterised by the development of carbon dioxide, the formation of alcohol, acids and other by-products. Fermentation takes place at a temperature of about 14-20 degrees Celsius for simple to medium wine qualities. In the case of high-quality musts, which have a high sugar concentration, fermentation can even take months. The yeast-cloudy, still fermenting product is called young wine.


Taste is a subjective perception. The sense of taste is the ability to distinguish between different substances in terms of taste. There are four basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Glutamate, also known as "umami", is the fifth taste. Not to be confused with tactile sensations (concerning the sense of touch), especially on the inside of the cheeks, such as sharp or astringent.


During the first racking of the vegmented wines, the wine is separated from the yeast (Hefe).

Blick auf die Weinberge rund um die Marienburg in Zell Mosel. © Philipp Bohn

K - Z


Press for squeezing the juice out of the grape berry.


Designation of a vineyard whose name and boundaries are recorded and protected by law. There are a total of 2658 single vineyard sites in Germany, with the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine-growing region accounting for the largest number, namely 507 single vineyard sites.


Denotes the ground, crushed grapes before pressing.


Freshly pressed grape juice in which fermentation has not yet started.


Indicates the sugar content of the must (unit: degrees Oechsle).


Are unit of measurement for the density of wine, the specific gravity of a must (unfermented grape juice) indicates by how many grams a litre of must is heavier than a litre of water. This depends on extract substances and above all on the sugar content. Minimum must weights serve as a quality criterion.


Sparkling wine (Perlwein) is a wine with a pressure of 1-2.5 bar. This carbonic acid pressure is created during fermentation or is achieved by adding fermentation carbonic acid.


It is done in winter. Around 90% of the one-year-old shoots are removed. This gives the winegrower the opportunity to help determine the yield of the next harvest.


A shoot of the vine plant.


Various cellar measures that serve to clarify, stabilise and refine the taste of the wine.


Sugar and yeast are added to a finished base wine and the second fermentation takes place. This produces natural carbonic acid - a characteristic feature of sparkling wine. When making sparkling wine, a distinction is made between the classic method (hand-shaken) and the transvasation method or filtration de-stemming, which saves the cost-intensive process of de-stemming, which is carried out manually. Riesling and Elbling are excellent base wines for making sparkling wine.


Charlemagne allowed this type of wine serving 1200 years ago. The winegrowers are only allowed to serve their self-harvested wine for 4 months of the year. The Straußwirtschaft must be located on the site of the winery and may not be rented. Simply prepared food is served. The wreath or bouquet on the door indicates that the tavern is open.


A cuvée with sugar and yeast added (sparkling wine starter).


Is obtained from the dried seeds of the grape. The taste is sweetish to bitter.


It is obtained by distilling the residue left after wine pressing.


Arises from wine to which acetic acid-forming bacteria are added, which transform the wine into vinegar in a further fermentation.


Wine yeast is the name given to unicellular microorganisms that belong to the group of fungi. They cause alcoholic fermentation in the must.


Potassium salt of tartaric acid. Has no influence on the quality of the wine. Precipitates during fermentation or when exposed to cold, also due to temperature fluctuations during storage.