Learn about Riesling Wine — taste profile, popular regions and more ...
A noble grape produced in a wide range of styles, Riesling can be bone dry, intensely sweet and everything in between. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling wine possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. It can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and the best examples can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The white wine variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Riesling Tasting Notes
Aromatic fresh fruit, lively acidity, and light body and texture are hallmarks of the Riesling grape, together with flavors of ripe stone fruit and slate. Riesling usually has a high acidity and stone fruit, citrus, spice and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of Meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Perfect Riesling Food Pairings
Most Riesling is found in the range of dry to just slightly sweet, making it incredibly food friendly - it pairs well with sweet-fleshed fish like sole, freshly shucked oysters and most Asian food. The off-dry styles in particular are a natural accompaniment to the spicy, sour, and sweet flavors that define many Thai and Indian recipes. This is due to the blend of tropical fruits and acidity present in these wines, as well as their low alcohol content, which balances the heat found in the food. Dry German Riesling pairs perfectly with anything that contains fall fruit. Think pork chops with apples, pear and arugula salad, or butternut squash. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
Sommelier Secrets for Riesling
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.
Nikolaihof Vinothek Riesling 1997Riesling from Wachau, Austria