Welcome to the World of Winemaking! I’m having fun alphabetizing the home winemaking process – here are the links going backwards for your convenience, in case you missed any:
A for Aromas, Acidity and Appearance
B for Barrels, Bottles and Blackberry Wine
C for Color, Clarity, Carboys and Cherry Wine
D for Decanting and Decanters
E for Equipment
F for Fermentation
G for Glass and Grape
H for Harvest
I for Infusion
J for Jeroboam and Jug
Today’s letter is 220;K”, so we’ll talk about Kabinett – not the German word for wine cabinet, rather the grape sweetness level used in the Prädikat German wine classification system.
Kabinett is a German language wine term for a wine which is made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, typically picked in September, and are usually made in a light style. The term ‘Kabinette’ originally implied a wine of superior quality, set aside for later sale.
The term originated with the cistercian monks at Eberbach Abbey in Rheingau, where the first recorded use of the term occurred in 1712. The abbey’s best wines were set aside to be stored in a special cellar built in 1245, and it was later known as the Cabinet cellar, or Cabinet-Keller.
In 1971, the term Kabinett was officially noted in German wine law, and it was given its current definition which applies to wines which are light and non-chaptalized – chaptalization is the process of adding sugar to unfermented grape must in order to increase the alcohol content after fermentation. This process is not intended to make the wine sweeter, but rather to provide more sugar for the yeast to ferment into alcohol. Remember, sugar converts to alcohol during fermentation.
Since Kabinett wines may not be chaptalized, they tend to possess the lowest alcohol content of all German wines. Kabinett wines are often noted for having a pronounced light and elegant character when from the colder German wine regions, such as Mosel, and in wines made from the grape variety Riesling (which dominates much of the coldest German regions).
Typical German Kabinett wines are usually best enjoyed when aged for between 1 and 5 years. However, some better examples can be cellared for over a decade.
Winemaking is so much fun – at least for me – and am tickled every time I give the wine I make as gifts to friends and family who love drinking it as much as I love making it. While we go through this alphabetical series on winemaking, if you have any burning questions, be sure to ask them in the comments below, and I’ll reply there – and maybe even highlight your specific question(s) in a future post!
Thanks for joining me in this fun adventure!