Spatlese vs Auslese: Understanding the Difference in German Wines

Spatlese vs Auslese

No wine enthusiast’s experience is complete without trying Spatlese vs Auslese, two important categories from Germany’s signature Riesling wines. Originating in the heart of German wine country, both of these styles have captured the imaginations of curious sommeliers around the world with their distinct flavors and quality criteria. But what truly sets them apart?

Spatlese vs Auslese

Today, we will be looking at Spätlese vs Auslese wines and exploring the differences between these two German-style semi-sweet varietals. We’ll discuss how both vintages come from Riesling grapes, yet their product has distinct characteristics that can affect your experience in drinking them without any doubts. So let’s get started on this journey and explore what sets apart these great whole selections!

Understanding Spatlese Wine for Wine Enthusiasts

Spatlese wine is among the German wine varieties often mentioned by sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. It is typically classified as sweet wine because of its residual sugar content. But aside from its sweet taste, there is more to Spatlese wine that wine enthusiasts should know.

Spatlese wine is a German term that translates to “late harvest.” It is made from late-harvested grapes with higher sugar content, enabling a higher alcohol percentage after fermentation. Spatlese wines are smooth on the palate, with a balanced aroma of fruitiness and acidity. In terms of sweetness level, it is generally higher than Kabinett wine but less than Auslese wine. Spatlese wine’s sweetness level falls under the semi-sweet wine category.

The process of producing Spatlese wine starts with the late harvest stage. The weather must be warm, allowing for the grapes to ripen and accumulate sugar naturally. Once harvested, the grapes undergo a traditional winemaking method that includes pressing, fermentation, clarification, and aging. Spatlese wine is typically aged in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels to further enhance its taste and aroma.

When it comes to serving Spatlese wine, it’s best to chill it for a few hours before serving. It is also advisable to serve it in a tall, slim wine glass to allow the aroma to release fully. The wine’s complex flavors and sweetness make it an excellent accompaniment to spicy food, fatty meat dishes like pork, and desserts. For example, an herb-crusted pork loin or a spicy Thai noodle dish will complement the sweetness and acidity of Spatlese wine.

Spatlese wine is versatile and can be paired with any food of your choice, but it is important to note its sweetness level, acidity level, and body. It is best to match a dish with a wine that balances it in terms of flavor and palate. For instance, Spatlese wine’s sweetness and acidity will counterbalance both salty and spicy dishes. When buying Spatlese wine, consider its price, producer, grape variety, and region of origin. The price range varies depending on the producer, vintage, and quality of the wine.

Spatlese wine is one of the best wine varieties to consider for wine enthusiasts who enjoy semi-sweet wines. It is a unique wine type with a great balance of sweetness, acidity, and aroma. Understanding Spatlese wine, its style, and its production process will allow you to choose the right wine for any occasion.

Understanding Auslese Wine for Wine Enthusiasts

Auslese (mean select harvest) is a German term that refers to a particular type of wine that is made from select-harvested grapes with a high level of sugar concentration.

Auslese wines are known for their high sugar content, which makes them sweet to taste. This sweetness is a result of the selective harvesting of grapes, which allows the fruit to ripen, and concentrate sugar and acidity. Therefore, grapes used to make Auslese wines are left on the vine for an extended period even till they start to show signs of botrytis (the “noble rot”). Botrytis is a fungus that causes the grapes to become dehydrated and concentrate the sugars and flavors of the grapes, leading to richly-flavored, aromatic, and intense wines with a delicate balance of acidity.

The most common grapes used to make Auslese wines are Riesling, Silvaner, and Gewürztraminer with Riesling being the most famous. Riesling is the go-to grape variety for making Auslese wine because of its high acidity levels which balance the sweetness of the wine. The acidity also helps preserve the wine, allowing it to age well for several years.

Auslese wine is the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of dishes. The most traditional pairing would go well with desserts, especially those that are not too sweet. Experts suggest that Auslese wine would pair well with dishes that are rich and savory due to its sugary taste. It is also contended that Auslese wines work well with spicy foods.

Auslese wines are rare and exceptional examples of how aging can transform a wine. Wines that are properly aged become complex, smooth, and beautifully balanced. In the case of Auslese, aging can bring out subtle flavors and aromas that were not noticed before. A well-aged Auslese wine can be enjoyed on its own or paired with your favorite savory or sweet dishes.

Understanding Auslese Wine for Wine Enthusiasts

Auslese wines are among the most expensive wines globally because of the production process. The late harvest and the selective hand-picked “noble rot” grapes make the production process time-consuming and labor-intensive. It also requires specialized equipment to prevent the grapes from being crushed too quickly, which affects the juice’s quality. All these factors contribute to the wine’s high cost, making it a luxury to purchase.

Auslese wines are a popular choice among wine enthusiasts who appreciate their richness, sweetness, and complexity. Produced using specific techniques and from selective grape varieties, Auslese wine is a luxurious choice for any occasion. The perfect food-pairing and aging potential make it worth the expense.

Understanding the Differences between Spatlese and Auslese

German wine has been gaining popularity over the years, and it’s not just because of Riesling’s popularity among sommeliers. Two revered terms in the world of German wines are Spatlese and Auslese, each with a unique flavor composition. These terms refer to the ripeness of the grapes, the making process, and the sweetness level of the wine produced. Now, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between Spatlese and Auslese. We’ll examine three key components of wine: sweetness, acidity, and body, and how they contribute to the taste of the wine.


The level of sweetness in wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation. Spatlese is -relatively sweet, with a residual sugar level of 172-209 grams per liter (67-90 Oechsle).

Auslese, on the other hand, is significantly sweeter, having residual sugar levels of 191-260 grams per liter (83-110 Oechsle). Spatlese wines are generally a bit drier and have hints of sweetness that are often balanced by acidity. Auslese wines, on the other hand, are much sweeter, with dominant fruity flavors such as apricot, mango, or peach. The sweetness comes from the over-ripe grapes used in making the wine, which leads to higher sugar content.


Acidity is a crucial factor in wine, providing the structure and balance needed to offset the sweetness in the wine. Spatlese wines have higher acidity levels, are sharp, and are tangy on the palate. The acidity in Spatlese wines helps cut through the sweetness and provides a refreshing balance. Auslese, on the other hand, still has a refreshing level of acidity, but it’s not as pronounced as in Spatlese. It’s balanced by the sweetness, giving a softer balance to the wine


Body refers to a wine’s texture, saturation, and weight. It’s generally determined by how long the wine is aging, and how it’s being made. Spatlese wines are lighter than Auslese, crisp, and refreshing, with a good amount of acidity. This wine can be seasoned with fruits, nuts, and cheeses. In contrast, Auslese wines are heavier, more full-bodied, and richer in texture. They can be paired with strong cheese or served as a dessert wine. They have a velvety finish with a syrupy sensation.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between Spatlese and Auslese wine can help you in making an informed decision on which one to choose. If you’re a lover of sweet wine, then Auslese would be a perfect fit for your palate. However, if you prefer a more balanced wine with a subtle hint of sweetness, then you might opt for Spatlese. Additionally, you need to consider the acidity and body of the wine you prefer because they could determine the meals or snacks to pair with them.

Demystifying Spätlese vs Auslese Wines: A Comprehensive Guide

Spätlese and Auslese are wine classifications used in Germany to indicate the ripeness level of grapes at the time of harvest. Spätlese translates to “late harvest,” while Auslese means “selected harvest.” The difference between these two classifications lies in the level of ripeness of the grapes when they are picked. Spätlese wines are made from grapes that are harvested later in the season and therefore have a higher sugar concentration, resulting in a sweeter wine. Auslese wines are made from grapes that are hand-selected and have reached an even higher level of ripeness, resulting in a more concentrated and complex wine.

The grape varieties used to produce Spätlese and Auslese wines are typically Riesling, but other white grape varieties such as Gewürztraminer and Müller-Thurgau can also be used. The region where the grapes are grown plays a significant role in determining the quality and style of the wine. German wine regions known for producing Spätlese and Auslese wines include the Mosel, Rheingau, and Nahe, among others.

The winemaking process for Spätlese and Auslese wines is similar to that of other white wines. The grapes are carefully harvested by hand and then crushed to extract the juice. The juice is then fermented with yeast to convert the sugar into alcohol, in the case of dry wines. For sweeter wines, the fermentation process is stopped before all the sugar is converted, resulting in residual sugar content. The final step is aging the wine, which can either be done in stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, or a combination of both.

When it comes to tasting Spätlese and Auslese wines, they are typically enjoyed as dessert wines or on their own as an aperitif. Spätlese wines are semi-sweet to sweet, with flavors of ripe fruit and honey, while Auslese wines are more complex and can vary in sweetness level depending on the grape variety and winemaking techniques used.

In conclusion, Spätlese and Auslese wines are two of the most popular wine classifications in Germany. They are made from specific grape varieties that are harvested at different ripeness levels, resulting in distinctively sweet, complex, and flavorful wines. The region where the grapes are grown, winemaking techniques, and aging processes also play a crucial role in the final flavor profile of the wines.

Spatlese vs Auslese: Comparing Prices to Find the Most Cost-Effective Option

You are probably wondering which one is more cost-effective for your budget. So now, we will compare the prices of Spatlese vs Auslese wines to help you make an informed decision.

When it comes to price, Spatlese tends to be less expensive than Auslese, as it is made from grapes that have a lower ripeness level. This means that fewer grapes are needed to produce the same amount of wine, resulting in a lower cost per bottle. Auslese, on the other hand, is made from grapes that have a higher ripeness level, which requires more labor and resources, making it more expensive.

However, it is worth noting that the price of Spatlese and Auslese wines can vary greatly depending on factors such as the winery, vintage, and region. In some cases, a Spatlese from a high-end winery in a prized region can cost more than a basic Auslese from a lesser-known winery. Therefore, it is important to do your research and compare prices before making a decision.

Another factor to consider when comparing prices is the aging potential of the wines. Generally, Auslese wines have a higher aging potential than Spatlese wines. This means that an Auslese wine can be enjoyed for many years, whereas a Spatlese wine is best consumed within a few years of the vintage. If you are looking to age your wine, it might be worth investing in an Auslese, even if it costs more upfront.

When comparing the prices of Spatlese vs Auslese wines, it is generally safe to say that Spatlese is more cost-effective due to its lower ripeness level. However, it’s important to keep in mind that other factors such as the winery, vintage, and aging potential can affect the price. Additionally, your choice of wine should also be based on your taste preferences and the dish you plan to pair it with. As with any purchase, do your research and experiment with different wines to find the one that works best for you.

When to Serve Spatlese vs Auslese: Understanding German Wine

Wine is a fixture in many social gatherings or events, and understanding which type to serve can be a bit confusing, especially when it comes to German wines. In Germany, two popular types of wines are Spatlese and Auslese, and knowing when to serve each one can help you impress guests at your next gathering or select the perfect bottle for dinner with friends or family.

Spatlese wines are medium-sweet wines that are still considered relatively dry compared to other German wines. It pairs well with lighter foods such as salad, seafood, and chicken dishes. Make sure to serve Spatlese cool. On the other hand, Auslese wine is ultra-sweet with a higher level of acidity giving it a fantastic balance of sweetness and tartness. This makes it perfect for pairing with spicy food, spicier Asian cuisine, as well as strong cheeses.

When hosting a formal occasion with a three-course meal, Spatlese should be served alongside the appetizer, while Auslese pairs well with dessert. The sweetness of Auslese will complement the sweet dessert flavors, creating a harmonized taste. Spatlese would overshadow the sweetness of the desserts as they have a milder sweetness than Auslese.

It’s also essential to understand that Spatlese and Auslese vary in terms of aging ability. Spatlese wines can age well for 5-10 years, while Auslese can age for up to 20 years, sometimes even longer. Therefore, if you buy a bottle of Auslese, keep it in a storage facility for a few years before consuming it, and make sure to age it correctly. The aging conveys the evolution and refinement of the wine, thus, allowing it to age to perfection.

Spatlese and Auslese wines are an excellent addition to any wine collection or a great choice for any occasion. Understanding the differences between the two and knowing when to serve each wine will elevate your social gatherings, impressing guests with your knowledge of wine pairing. Whether you prefer the balance of sweetness and tartness in Auslese or the subtle sweetness of Spatlese, they are the perfect choice for making any meal even more memorable.

A Beginner’s Guide to German Wine

When it comes to wine, Germany may not be the first country that comes to mind. However, Germany has a rich wine history and produces some of the best wines in the world. German wine is renowned for its quality and unique taste profile. If you’re a wine enthusiast looking to expand your horizons or just someone who wants to learn more about German wine, this beginner’s guide is for you.

Understanding German Wine Regions

A Beginner Guide to German Wine

Germany has 13 distinct wine regions, each with its unique terroir, grape varieties, and wine styles. The most famous wine region, and arguably the best, is the Mosel. The Mosel region is known for its steep slopes, slate soil, and Riesling grape variety, which produces a light-bodied wine with high acidity, floral aromas, and flavors of green apple, lime, and mineral notes. Other notable wine regions include the Rheingau, which is famous for its full-bodied Riesling and Pinot Noir, and Pfalz, which produces a wide range of wines from dry to sweet.

German Wine Classifications

German wines are classified based on their ripeness level, which ranges from dry to sweet. The six main ripeness levels are Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese. Kabinett is the driest and lightest wine, while Beerenauslese is the sweetest and most concentrated. In addition to ripeness level, German wine labels also include the grape variety, region, and producer. Understanding German wine labels is key to finding the right wine for your taste preferences.

Grape Varieties in German Wine

While Riesling is the most famous grape variety in German wine, other grape varieties are also grown, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Silvaner. Pinot Noir is grown predominantly in the Baden and Ahr regions and produces a light-bodied wine with aromas of red fruits, spices, and earthy notes. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are grown mainly in the Pfalz region and produce both dry and sweet wines. Silvaner is another grape variety that is grown mainly in Franken and produces a dry and full-bodied wine.

Food Pairing with German Wine

German wine is versatile and pairs well with a variety of foods. Dry Riesling pairs well with seafood, poultry, and veal dishes, while sweet Riesling pairs well with spicy dishes, blue cheese, and desserts. Pinot Noir pairs well with roasted meat, game, and mild cheese. Silvaner pairs well with asparagus dishes, veal, and poultry. When in doubt, a classic pairing is a German Riesling with a delicious pork schnitzel!

Best Time to Drink German Wine

German wine is best enjoyed young, but the high acidity and sugar content make it suitable for aging. Dry Riesling can age up to 20 years, while sweet Riesling and Beerenauslese can age for more than 50 years. Proper storage conditions are necessary for aging wine, so if you plan to age your German wine, invest in a wine fridge or cellar.

German wine is a fantastic and unique addition to anyone’s wine collection. Understanding the different wine regions, grape varieties, wine classifications, food pairings, and aging potential is essential in finding the perfect bottle for your taste preferences. German wine is rich in taste, history, and culture, and it’s time to discover its beauty!


1. What is the difference between Spatlese and Auslese wines?

The main difference between Spatlese and Auslese wines is the sugar content. Spätlese wines have a moderate sugar content, while Auslese wines are made from fully ripe grapes that contain more natural sugars than Spätlese wine. This gives the Ausleses a sweeter, richer taste. Additionally, because of their higher sugar content, Ausleses age better than Spätleses. The aromas and flavors become softer and more intense with time in the bottle as these concentrated sugars balance out the high acidity present in these German Rieslings.

2. How do you identify a Spatlese or Auslese wine?

When trying to identify a Spatlese or Auslese wine, there are a few key characteristics to look out for. First, the label should indicate that it is a German Riesling, as these are the most common types of wines to come in either Spätlese or Auslese varieties. Additionally, the label should indicate whether it is an Auslese or Spätlese. Ausleses will typically be labeled “Auslese,” while Spätleses may be labeled as such, or simply “Spät.”

Furthermore, there are significant differences between the two in terms of taste and flavor. Ausleses will typically have a richer and sweeter taste due to their higher sugar content compared to Spätleses. The aromas may also differ slightly; for example, some Ausleses may have more intense floral and fruit notes compared to Spätleses. Finally, another way to tell them apart is by considering how each type ages; Ausleses tend to age better than Spätleses due to their higher sugar content.

3. Are Spatlese and Auslese wines sweet?

Spatlese and Auslese wines are both considered sweet wines, as they have a higher sugar content than other varieties of German Riesling. Spätleses typically have a moderate sugar content, while Ausleses are made from fully ripe grapes that contain more natural sugars than Spätleses. This gives the Ausleses a richer and sweeter taste. Additionally, because of their higher sugar content, Ausleses age better than Spätleses, resulting in an even softer, more intense flavor with time in the bottle due to the balanced acidity present in these German Rieslings. As a result, both Spätlese and Auslese wines can be enjoyed for their sweetness.

4. What foods pair best with each type of wine?

Spätlese wines, with their moderate sugar content, pair well with lighter fare such as salads and fish, as well as more robust dishes like roasted meats and game. The subtle flavors of this wine make it a great accompaniment for sweet desserts like fruit tarts or crème brûlée.

Auslese wines are richer and sweeter than Spätlese wines, making them perfect for pairing with spicier dishes such as Indian curry or Thai food. These robust wines can also be used to cut through the richness of fruit pies or creamy white chocolate desserts. The strong flavor of the wine will help to balance out any sweetness in the food, resulting in a harmonious pairing that is truly unique.

5. Is there an age requirement for drinking either style of wine?

Yes, there is an age requirement for drinking both Spätlese and Auslese wines. In the United States, those who wish to purchase and consume these wines must be 21 years of age or older. This holds for all alcoholic beverages in the US, including wine.

Additionally, it is important to note that some countries have different laws regarding what ages are legally allowed to purchase alcohol; in some cases, this may vary depending on the type of beverage. Therefore, it is recommended that you always check with your local government regulations before purchasing any alcoholic beverages.

6. What are some common characteristics of each type of wine?

Spätlese wines are generally light in body and color, with low to moderate levels of acidity. They typically have flavors of green apple, citrus, honey, and floral notes. The palate is usually crisp and refreshing, with a lingering finish highlighting the wine’s, balanced sweetness.

Auslese wines are made from grapes that are riper than their Spätlese counterparts. This results in a full-bodied wine with higher levels of sugar content, creating a richer and sweeter taste. Common aromas include honey, apricot, peach, and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. On the palate, Ausleses shows intense flavors of ripe fruit along with subtle minerality, often accompanied by a delicate spiciness on the finish.

7. How long can an opened bottle of either style be stored for later consumption?

An opened bottle of either a Spätlese or an Auslese wine can typically be stored for up to three to five days, depending on the strength of the wine. The higher sugar content in Ausleses makes them more resistant to oxidation and bacteria, allowing them to last longer than their Spätlese counterparts when opened. It is important to store all opened bottles of white wines in a cool and dark place such as a refrigerator, and also seal it tightly with a vacuum pump or cork stopper.

Additionally, if possible, try to keep the bottle at a horizontal angle as this will help keep the cork from drying out over time. Once opened, it is best to drink the wine within one or two days for optimal flavor.

8. Are there any health benefits to drinking these types of wines regularly?

The moderate sugar content in Spätlese and Auslese wines provides several potential health benefits. These include the promotion of cardiovascular health, prevention of certain types of cancers, and improved mental well-being. The antioxidants found in these wines may help to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of diabetes. Additionally, the polyphenols present in these wines can help protect against certain types of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Furthermore, drinking these wines in moderation can be beneficial for maintaining strong bones, reducing stress levels, and even promoting longevity. It is important to remember, however, that any alcohol should be consumed responsibly and in moderation; excessive consumption can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health.

9. Is it more expensive to purchase Auslesi or Spatlesi wines compared to other popular varieties?

Auslese and Spätlese wines are generally more expensive than other popular varieties. This is due to the extra care and attention that goes into producing these high-quality wines. For example, Auslese wines are made from hand-selected ripe grapes that must be harvested at perfect maturity, while Spätlese grapes must be left on the vine for a longer period in order to develop higher levels of sweetness.

Additionally, both of these types of wine require a more labor-intensive winemaking process that includes meticulous sorting and pressing of the grapes. The result is a wine with complex flavors, aromas, and body that can command higher prices on the market.

10. Are there any regional wineries that specialize in producing one type over the other in particular areas around the world?

Yes, several regional wineries specialize in producing either one type of wine or the other. In Germany, for example, several winemakers focus on Spätlese and Auslese wines from the Rheingau and Mosel regions. These wines are renowned for their intense flavor profiles, with high levels of sugar content and subtle acidity.

In France, the Loire Valley is known for its production of both Spätlese and Auslese wines. Here, winemakers craft these styles from Chenin Blanc grapes that offer ripe fruit flavors and complex aromatics. In Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, producers specialize in crafting Sauvignon Blanc-based Spätleses that boast fresh citrus notes alongside delicate floral aromas.

Finally, in Australia’s Yarra Valley region, producers create both styles from Chardonnay grapes that provide tropical fruit flavors and creamy textures. Regardless of where they’re produced, these two styles are beloved by sommeliers around the world for their complexity and balance.


Spatlese and Auslese wines have a lot to offer, from their sweet and dessert-like qualities to their unique aromas. They can pair with just about anything, from an everyday dinner to a special occasion, and some truly exceptional bottles make this type of wine something worth especially seeking out.

Whether you prefer the sweeter taste of Spatlese or want a touch more body in your wine with Auslese, there’s no wrong choice. Experiment with different types of Riesling wines—you never know what you might find. With so many varieties available worldwide, it’s worth taking a chance on trying something different. Why not give one of these delicious styles of Riesling a try?

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