Domaine Zind-Humbrecht took a pioneering role in producing Alsace wines in concentrated, fruity style using low yields (around 30-40 hectoliter per hectare) and biodynamic viticulture. Some of these wines did have considerable residual sugar (without being intended as dessert wines), which at that time was unusual for Alsace wines.
The level of residual sugar in Zind-Humbrecht wines may vary considerably between vintages, and acceptance of such variations is part of the biodynamic philosophy.
In order to guide the consumer to what they may expect inside the bottle, Zind-Humbrecht introduced a sweetness index on the labels of their bottles from the 2001 vintage. This index is a number from 1 to 5, which is found in fine print as "Indice 1" to "Indice 5" on the label, typically next to the alcoholic content. The index is assigned based on an overall impression of the wine, and has the following meaning:
- Indice 1: analytically dry or tasting dry. (This would correspond to the "classical Alsace style".)
- Indice 2: not analytically dry, but the sweetness is not apparent on the palate
- Indice 3: a semi-sweet wine
- Indice 4: a sweet wine; these wines may correspond to Vendange Tardive wines from many other producers.
- Indice 5: high sweetness, corresponding to a Vendange Tardive in richness but with less noble rot character. These will be wines which Zind-Humbrecht could have bottled as Vendange Tardive, but have elected not to because of their style.