German wine classification consists of several quality categories and is often the source of some confusion, especially among non-German speaking wine consumers. The official classification is set down in the wine law of 1971, although some changes and amendments have been made since then. The classification is based on several factors, including region of origin, whether sugar has been added, and the ripeness of the grapes. The system is quite different from the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée system, or the systems in most other countries. In addition, German wine labels can be confusing for non-German speakers, although they give much information to those who are able to read them.
In recent years, the official classification has been criticised by many of the top producers, and additional classifications have been set down by wine growers' organisations such as VDP, without enjoying legal protection. The two main reasons for criticism are that the official classification does not differentiate between better and lesser vineyards and that the quality levels are less appropriate to high-quality dry wines.
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