Mandatory sensory and analytical testing for quality wines or pedicate wines in Austria (this is not necessary for the two quality categories wine and country wine). As proof that the test has been passed, the state test number is assigned, which must be stated on the label. The procedure was introduced in Austria in 1987 as one of the measures taken in response to the wine scandal uncovered in 1985, when some producers adulterated simple wines by banning the addition of the antifreeze glycol to produce supposedly high-quality wines with high residual sweetness.
The national test number must be indicated on the label. From this number, the inspection body, manufacturer and year of manufacture can be traced clearly and unambiguously. The wine may not be altered from the beginning of the application to the end of the procedure and from the date of issue. In particular, subsequent blending, deacidification, fining and sugaring are prohibited. Only care measures such as sulphur, addition of ascorbic acid and metatartaric acid, changes in carbon dioxide content and filtration are permitted.
The "Bundesamt für Weinbau in Eisenstadt" (Burgenland) is authorised to issue the test number for all Austrian quality and predicate wines by notice and to carry out all procedures for the issue. Applications must be submitted to this office in Eisenstadt or to the branch offices, or to the Höhere Bundeslehranstalt für Wein- und Obstbau in Klosterneuburg (Lower Austria) can be submitted by means of a form. The application must state the place where the wine is stored, the type of wine (colour, blend, vintage, quantity, local origin, quality wine grape variety, quality grade, must weight and any enrichment that has taken place), as well as details of the intended wine designation, storage and, in the case of special quality wines, the must batch numbers and partial quantities. The application shall be accompanied by wine samples in the form of bottles. The wines submitted will be subjected to analytical testing in accordance with wine legislation and sensory testing by experienced tasters.
The analytical examination by standardised methods includes alcohol content (present, total), sugar-free extract (see under total extract), reducing sugar (see under residual sugar and sugar content), titratable acidity (total acidity), free sulphurous acid, total sulphurous acid (free and bound) and relative density, and carbon dioxide pressure for sparkling and semi-sparkling wines.
The sensory evaluation is carried out by 6 tasters in tasting cabins with only visual contact to the tasting leader. They are informed about the vintage, the grape variety, the wine-growing region and the quality category(quality wine or predicate wine level. Information about technical measures in the cellar is not given. The question is whether the wine is typical of the variety, region and vintage and whether it is free from defects. It is evaluated with a YES or NO (no point scheme). In the case of rejection, the error must be specified, e.g. oxidation, volatile acidity(acetic acidity), Böckser etc. For a positive evaluation, there must be a vote ratio of at least four YES evaluations. With a vote ratio of 3:3 (3 YES: 3 NO) the wine is presented to a second tasting commission. In case of another vote ratio of 3:3 the wine is finally rejected. A majority of at least 7 YES votes would be necessary in this case.
On a long-term average, about 85% of the wines submitted are awarded the State examination number. The main reasons are clear wine faults and/or insufficient typicality. Either they are declassified as simple wines or have to be withdrawn from circulation at all. Most refusals are due to sensory defects. The most common defects or faults are Böckser, oxidised tones and mouldy tones. The purely analytical rejections account for only 2%. The most common reason for such rejections are exceeding the total alcohol or residual sugar content and exceeding the limits for sulphurous acidity. Every year 4,000 to 5,000 samples are rejected.
The year of submission need not be the same as the year of bottling. Therefore, when the application is submitted, the wine does not have to be bottled. If the vintage year and the year of submission are identical, then it is an early bottling in the year of harvest. If the year of submission is higher than the vintage year, then this indicates longer ageing (several months to years). The testing stations are Eisenstadt, as well as the branch offices in Baden, Krems, Poysdorf, Retz and Silberberg. The national test number can also be applied for via the Internet (network). A fictitious example with the national test number L-E 1234/18:
In Germany, a very similar procedure is used to allocate the official examination number. Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques as well as the various types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are included under the keyword vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under the keyword wine law.
Label: Norbert Tischelmayer