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What is Trockenbeerenauslese?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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Trockenbeerenauslese, often shortened to the abbreviation TBA, is an extremely sweet dessert wine. Made from a selection of individually handpicked grapes that have thoroughly ripened, this wine is fairly pricey. Due to the stringent criteria that must be met for a wine to qualify as a Trockenbeerenauslese, the withered grapes are typically selected by an experienced individual or vintner to ensure their quality. Because of the additional extensive labor needed to produce such wine, the price of Trockenbeerenauslese often rises to much above that of the average dessert wine. Additionally, because the climate must be so distinctively hot and dry to grow the appropriate grapes, this dessert wine isn’t always readily available.

This wine stays true to its name’s literal translation of “selected dried berries.” The grapes are so painstakingly collected because in order to make a successful Trockenbeerenauslese, each grape must have been affected by noble rot, which is a "good fungus" also known as botrytis. Noble rot occurs when grapes have become extremely ripe in very dry conditions. Grapes that experienced a drier climate rather than a humid climate are typically infected with this form of gray fungus.

Grapes than have been infected with noble rot are generally shriveled to a raisin-like state. Once in the form of a raisin, these very sweet grapes are picked off the vines. An assortment of grapes, including but not limited to the popular Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay, are used to make varieties of Trockenbeerenauslese. Some ripen earlier and have a longer lifespan. Regardless of which grape is used to make the dessert wine, though, the wine both tastes and smells distinctively sweet.

Though not always, Trockenbeerenauslese is primarily manufactured in Germany, though it may be sold internationally. Because this wine isn’t as accessible as many other varieties, wine connoisseurs often choose to buy the dessert wine at a wine auction. This wine typically ranges in color from gold to orange. Some say it looks a bit like honey due to its thick texture.

Although high in price, Trockenbeerenauslese is often sold by the half-bottle due to its almost syrupy thickness. A sipping wine, it may be enjoyed by itself as an after-dinner drink. Likewise, it may be utilized as a dessert accompanied by a small bit of cheese.

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