Austrian Wine Terms You Should Know- Quick Summary

First, why the red and white wine capsules and screwcaps?

A red and white capsule or screwcap on bottles of Austrian wine denotes a quality wine that has passed official quality testing procedures.

Wine Terms:

DAC: Districtus Austriae Controllatus – represents both a region and that region’s wine style. Similar to the appellation system used in France.

Qualitatswein: wine produced in one of Austria’s defined wine-growing regions – EU definition is a “wine with protected designation of origin”.

Gebietswein: Regional wine.

Ortswein: Village wine.

Riedenwein (or Ried): Single vineyard wine.

  • Erste Lage: similar to Premier Cru in Burgundy, France.
  • Grosse Lage: similar to Grand Cru in Burgundy, France.

Note: the terms Erste Lage and Grosse Lage have just been adopted and it is estimated that the first vineyard classifications will be in 2025 at the earliest.

Prädikatswein: the top tier of Austrian wine quality classification – a Qualitatswein defined by an established degree of ripeness at harvest. There are 5 Prädikats:

  • Spätlese: ‘late harvest’. Made from grapes picked at least a week after the start of the standard harvest, at a minimum of 19 KMW.
  • Auslese: ‘selected harvest’. Made from ripe grapes (min. 21 KMW) affected to some degree by botrytis.
  • Beerenauslese (BA):‘berry selection’. Super-ripe grapes (min. 25 KMW) remain on the vine and only berries affected by botrytis are ‘selected’.
  • Ausbruch: a wine made exclusively from botrytis-affected berries.
  • Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): ‘dry berry selection’. Grapes are left on the vine until reaching a raisin-like state, with highly concentrated sugars (30 KMW).
  • Eiswein: ‘ice wine’, and indicates that the grapes (min. 25 KMW) were harvested and pressed while naturally frozen.
  • Strohwein / Schilfwein: ‘straw wine’ and ‘reed wine’. Grapes (min. 25 KMW) are air-dried, traditionally on mats made of straw or reeds, to concentrate their flavours and sugars.

Botrytis: botrytis cinerea is a fungus that deteriorates the skin of healthy grapes causing evaporation of the fluid while maintaining sugar levels. The grapes start to shrivel producing naturally sweet, rich wines with a distinct flavour profile.

Sekt: sparkling wine made in Austria – Austrian sekt comes in three quality tiers:

  • Austrian Sekt: not allowed to use regional designation other than Produced in Austria – 36 official grape varieties can be used – not considered a quality tier.
  • Austrian Sekt Klassic: from a protected designation of origin- must also be aged on the lees for nine months – vintage dating is allowed.
  • Austrian Sekt Reserve: must be made using the traditional method – must be aged on the lees for minimum of 18 months.
  • Austrian Sekt Grosse Reserve: must be aged on the lees for at least 30 months and must come from a single village.

Vinea Wachau’s classification: Wachau has opted out of the DAC system and instead uses terms Steinfeder (light, fresh, fruity and tangy with max 11.5% ABV), Federspiel (middleweight and elegant with 11.5% – 12.5% ABV) and Smaragd (richest and fullest-bodied with over 12.5% ABV).

Links to Austrian wines:

Note: these wines may be VINTAGES releases, General List, Online, or at the Central Europe Destination Store (Dundas & Mavis in Mississauga).

Note: these wines are available for purchase by the case from the agent.

This feature was commissioned by Austrian Wine Marketing Board. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery, agent or region. Our writers independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines — good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the article. Wineries, wine agents, or regions pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.