Remember this from German Wine 101 ? "What these classifications (QmP) REALLY
represent are SUGAR LEVELS IN THE GRAPES
MEASURED AT HARVEST" That is all it means. After harvest the end
resulting sweetness/alcohol level is directed by the hand of man and
that result can very widely. So does QmP
apply just to Riesling ?
Ok, look at the name of this wine and see if you can answer that
2003 Weingut August Kesseler (Rheingau) Spaetburgunder Auslese trocken Assmannhaeuser Hoelleneberg Barrique
OK, so was it the Assmannhaeuser that gave it away ??? So yes, QmP can be applied to any grape that is made into wine in Germany. (there are some grapes from Alsace and probably other places that make their way into 'German' wine).
In the US market (historically), since we don't
get many Trocken, Halbtrocken, Classic, etc versions, it has been a
reasonable assumption that an Auslese is sweeter than a Kabinett, for
example, however with declassification (see declassification article)
and the slow introduction of trocken style wines to the US market, this
rule of thumb may come to disappoint.
So what is the difference between the Zimmer Michelsberg Spaetlese you can find for $6 at almost any place that has a German wine and a Karthaeuserhof Ruwer Spaetlese ? Many things really. Primarily that Karthaeuserhof is a top estate, owns it own vines all from one hillside, and Zimmer mixes, mashes and makes tonnes of alcoholic grape juice.
So armed with 2 pieces of information, you can make consistent good choices re German Wine.
1) Look at alcohol content to determine sweetness/dryness
and more difficult, but just do a little research
2) Choose Good Producers: Hans and Franz (Importers, Theise and Wiest) do a good job of this for you, but check the other sources listed on this website. I like to reconcile opinions from WS, Hans or Franz, Wein-Plus.de, Decanter, Eichelmann and The Wine Doctor. If you don't live in a big market for wine, it pays to do research before you order over the internet. Not everyone can drive and buy from Astor, Sam's, Napa Cabs or DeeVine.
One final off-topic truism ? If a wine receives a good rating, you can count on Zachy's to jack the price up quickly, sometimes before the review comes out. How is that ?