Czech wine labels explained – wine classification

When you are about to open up a nice bottle of Czech wine, you probably would like to know what’s inside that bottle. The most fun way to find out is, of course, to just pour it in a glass and have a go with it. However, the label might also help you out, if you understand the Czech language and know how the Czech wine classification works. If you are like me, and don’t understand Czech Language, this small guide might help:

Czech wines are partly classified by the amount of sugar in the grape juice. This is expressed by the so called must weight. Must weight is a measure of the amount of sugar in grape juice (must), and hence indicates the amount of alcohol that could be produced if it is all fermented to alcohol, rather than left as residual sugar.

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The quality of Czech wine divided in 4 categories (low to high quality):

  1. Stolní vínoTable Wine
    This is the lowest category of “Czech” wine, containing grapes originating from any country in the EU.
  2. Moravské zemské víno / České zemské vínoCountry wine
    Wine produced from grapes only originating from the Czech Republic. The must-weight levels should be at least 14 °NM.
  3. Jakostní víno – Quality wine
    Wine produced from grapes grown in the Czech Republic within a single wine region. Only grape varieties that are listed in the State Register of Grape Varieties are allowed. The must weight levels must be atleast 15 °NM.
  4. Jakostní víno s přívlastkem Quality Wine with Special Attributes
    Next to all requirements for Quality Wines, these wines have to originate from a single wine sub-region and the origin of the grapes, their sugar level, weight, grape variety or blend of varieties must be verified by the State Agricultural and Food Inspectorate. Wines in this category may have the following extra classifications:

    1. Kabinetní vínoKabinet wine
      Wines produced from grapes with a must weight of at least 19°NM. These often are lighter and dry wines.
    2. Pozdní sběrLate Harvest
      Wines produced from grapes with a must weight of at least 21°NM. These often are full, dry or semi-dry wines.
    3. Výběr z hroznůSpecial selection of grapes
      Wines produced from grapes with a must weight of at least 24°NM. These often are full-bodied wine, with a higher alcohol percentage.
    4. Výběr z bobulíSpecial selection of berries 
      Wines produced from grapes that ripened over a very long period on the vine and with a must weight of at least 27°NM. These often are very full, semi-sweet or sweet wines.
    5. Výběr z cibéb Special selection of botrytised berries
      Wines produced from selected berries that have been affected by noble rot, with a must weight of at least 32 °NM. Because of the long ripening time the majority of these berries turn into raisins. These are very extractive and sweet wines.   
    6. Ledové víno Ice wine
      Wine produced from grapes that are still frozen while being picked at a maximum temperature of  -7°C. The grapes have a must weight of at least 27°NM. The grapes are still frozen when being pressed, which results in very sweet wines.
    7. Slámové víno – Straw wine
      Wines produced from grapes that were dried for at least three months on straw mats or hung in a well-ventilated space. After drying, the must weight has to be at least 27°NM. The grapes may be pressed a month earlier if they have already reached a must level of at least 32°NM. Straw wines are very sweet.  

 

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