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Kabinett (literal meaning: cabinet), or sometimes Kabinettwein (literal meaning: a wine set aside in a cabinet), 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. In the German wine classification system, Kabinett is the lowest level of Prädikatswein, lower in ripeness than Spätlese.[1] A German Kabinett is semi-sweet (lieblich) by default, but may be dry (trocken) or off-dry (halbtrocken) if designated so.

In Austria, Kabinett is subcategory of Qualitätswein rather than a Prädikatswein, and the term always designates a dry wine.[2]

Contents

History

The term Kabinett, originally often written as Cabinet initially signified a better wine that has been set aside by the producer for later sale, corresponding to the use of the term Reserve in many countries. The term originated with the cistercian monks at Eberbach Abbey in Rheingau, where the first recorded use of the term Cabinet 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.[3]

In the 1971 German wine law, Kabinett was given its current meaning of the "lightest" non-chaptalized wines, which is quite different from its origins as a reserve wine. Before 1971, the term Cabinet or Kabinett was often used in conjunction with a Prädikat, so terms like "Trockenbeerenauslese Cabinet", which makes no sense whatsoever under the 1971 wine law, can be found on older bottles.[3]

The pre-1971 German wine term most closely corresponding to post-1971 Kabinett was Naturwein (natural wine) or Naturrein (naturally pure), which designated a non-chaptalised wine, where no other designation, such as Spätlese or Auslese, applied.[4]

Requirements

The minimum must weight requirements for Kabinett is as follows, and the requirements are part of the wine law in both countries:

  • In German wine, 67 to 82 degrees Oechsle, depending on the region (wine growing zone) and grape variety.[5] Just as for other Prädikatsweine, Chaptalisation may not be used.
  • In Austrian wine, 17 degrees KMW[2], corresponding to 85 °Oechsle. The alcohol content may be maximum 13%, the residual sugar a maximum of 9 grams per liter, and the wines may not be chaptalized, which is an exception from the rules for other Qualitätsweine.[6]

Style of German Kabinett wine

Since Kabinett wines may not be chaptalized, in difference to German Qualitätswein (QbA) and lower categories, they tend to be the German wines lowest in alcohol, despite the fact that the requirements on the grapes are higher than for QbA. The lightweight elegance of these wines are the most pronounced in Kabinett from the colder German wine regions, such as Mosel, and in wines made from the grape variety Riesling, which dominates many of the coldest German regions. Typically, a Riesling Kabinett from Mosel shows a high acidity and flowery aromas together with hints of slate and minerality. For semi-sweet wines the alcohol level can be 7-8%, and for dry Kabinett perhaps 10-11%.

For other combinations of regions and grape varieties, the situation may be different. For example, a dry Kabinett made in Baden or the Palatinate made from Pinot varieties can easily reach 13% alcohol.

Though these many of the classical German Kabinett wines may best be enjoyed in their youth (aged 1 to 5 years), some better examples can be aged for 10 years or more.

References

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

German

Etymology

From French cabinet

Noun

Kabinett n. (genitive Kabinetts, plural Kabinette)

  1. cabinet
  2. closet

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