There are six prädikat levels for German white wine. The first three are made from grapes with a progressively higher sugar concentration, and range from off-dry to very sweet. The next three levels are always intensely sweet. The levels are:
In theory this is the lightest prädikatswein. As indicated above, however, in ripe years this category may well be produced from grapes that are easily of Spätlese quality.
The term spätlese means "late harvest", the extra time spent on the vine being the reason for higher sugar concentrations prior to fermentation.
The term auslese means "selective harvest", and these wines are made from selected bunches, taken late in the harvest, that have higher sugar concentrations than spätlese.
The term beerenauslese means "selected grapes", and refers to wines produced from grapes individually selected for the purpose. The grapes are generally affected by botrytis.
The term trockenbeerenauslese means "dry berry selection", and refers to the individual grapes which have been shrivelled to a dry state by botrytis, and consequently selected for this wine.
Meaning literally "ice wine", these wines are made from grapes which have been left on the vine well into winter, and have been frozen prior to picking.