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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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halbtrocken, designates German wines that have between 5 and 18 g/l of residual sugar depending on the total acidity. Levels above 12 g/l are permitted governed by the formula: maximum residual sugar equals total g/l of acidity plus 10, up to an absolute limit of 18.

Among Riesling wines, which are most often encountered in halbtrocken format, 8 g/l of acidity is routinely reached, so that effectively halbtrocken refers to wines with between 10 and 18 g/l residual sugar. Among the top German producers in this century there has been a tendency to bottle fewer wines that fit the criteria for halbtrocken, as well as labelling those that do as feinherb or without any reference to degree of sweetness. In Austria, any wine is officially halbtrocken (and then labelled as such, albeit in tiny print) if it exceeds the maximum residual sugar set for trocken (which varies with total acidity) but does not exceed 12 g/l.