When you buy a German wine, it will most likely be a "Qualitätsweine bestimmter Anbaugebiete" (quality wine from a specific wine-making region), often abbreviated to Q.b.A. A Q.b.A. may only be made in one of thirteen specific wine-making regions in Germany - and the Rhine-Nahe region has two such regions to offer - the Middle Rhine and the Nahe. The wine must also have the typical characteristics of its respective region and pass the official quality test.
A "Qualitätswein mit Prädikat" (special quality wine) is something only to be found in Germany. These special quality wines are subject to the very highest standards of quality testing in terms of the type of grapes, maturity, harmony and elegance. The individual "Prädikate" (qualities) require different natural sugar content levels - the so-called "Mostgewicht" (specific gravity of the must). The six "Prädikate" (qualities) are: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and very special quality - "Eiswein" (ice wine). This wine is made from grapes of at least "Beerenauslese" standard. However they may only be picked and pressed while frozen at temperatures of less than minus 5°C. This means that only the sugar-containing, highly-flavored concentrated juice is pressed. These are unique wines with a characteristic concentration of fruity tartness and sweetness.
Sweet? Medium-dry? Dry? Desert wine?
Sweet and medium-dry wines have had unfermented grape juice added to them after fermentation as a "sweetener", or their fermantation has been carefully curbed. Wines are dry if the grapes' natural sugar content has been completely fermented or if there are only very small amounts of unfermented sugar remaining (to 10g/l). Desert wines are wines for which fermentation came to a standstill due to the grapes' very high natural sugar content.