A relatively cool climate, probably the most marginal for growing grapes, has obliged German growers to search out the most suitable sites. The result is that many vineyards lie on south-facing slopes above rivers, thus benefiting from an equable and warmer climate. The character of German wine is most clearly seen when the Riesling grape is used producing freshness and elegance.
Quality German wine is divided into two categories: Qualitätswein Bestimmter Anbaugebiete or QbA is literally a quality wine from one of thirteen specified regions. Qualitätswein Mit Prädikat or QmP means a superior quality wine affirmed by ripeness. In ascending order of ripeness the categories are Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Eiswein, made from grapes frozen solid on the vine during Germany's icy winters, is very sweet and very rare.