Riesling — A Guide to the Basics

Possibly no other grape variety is as closely associated with sweet wines as Riesling. In truth, that was never ever an accurate representation of all that the grape variety is capable of, because Riesling is produced in styles that run the gamut from very sweet to bone dry, and in countries around the world. Sweet German Riesling may have the most prestige, however dry Austrian Riesling is every bit as profound.

What is Riesling Wine?
Riesling is a wine produced from the grape variety of the same name. The large bulk of Rieslings on the market are still white red wines, however it’s possible to find shimmering examples. Depending upon where and how it’s produced, Riesling can be dry, sweet, or somewhere in between. Riesling tends to be remarkably food-friendly, not just pairing with, however elevating a wide range of foods, from hearty butter-and cream-sauced fish and light meats to aromatically spiced curries.

Where Does Riesling Wine Come From?
Riesling is closely associated with Germany, where its most well-known examples are made. In general, Riesling shines most brilliantly in cooler environments, which enable its natural acidity to come to the fore.

German Riesling tends to be sweet … however it’s not monolithically sweet. Riesling identified Kabinett boasts the subtle sweet taste of ripe fruit, whereas Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling can go toe-to-toe with sweet desserts (and cool cheeses!) without issue. If you see a German Riesling identified Trocken, that means it’s dry in style. In Austria, Riesling is most commonly produced into a dry wine, and the greatest examples can last for several years, and in some cases decades. With both German and Austrian Riesling, a distinct sense of minerality can normally be determined. German Sekt, or sparkling wine produced from Riesling, is likewise a still fairly niche white wine, but an interesting and food-friendly one that’s well worth checking out.

Riesling is also produced in Alsace, where some of the best Grand Crus are crafted from the variety, and in Australia, where areas like Clare Valley and Eden Valley are home to exceptional ones. Oregon and Washington State both boast outstanding Riesling, as does New York, particularly the Finger Lakes, which produces the vast majority of the state’s Riesling.

Riesling at its finest is a very transparent grape variety, suggesting that it reveals the character of where it is grown. This is an attribute treasured by grape growers, winemakers, white wine specialists, and customers, considering that it carefully ties any given bottle to its place of origin.

Why Should You Drink Riesling Wine?
It’s possible to grow various grape ranges in places worldwide; what makes the wines produced from them interesting are when they offer a lens through which to see the specific spot of world Earth that their roots are sunk into. This is what’s understood as “terroir-specificity”; it’s what makes a Grand Cru Burgundy more clamored-for than Premier Cru. Riesling, it’s commonly agreed, has a distinctively expressive capability to reveal where it was grown.

In addition to the typically remarkable ways in which Riesling communicates the land of its origins, it also uses a broad range of styles for consumers to select from. Among the best of them, even sweet Riesling normally has enough bracing acidity to balance out the recurring sugar, permitting each sip to be both decadent and mouthwatering.

At the table, it’s difficult to find a more food-friendly white wine than Riesling. And among collectors, Riesling offers great relative worth: Compared to other high-quality white red wines that can age for any length of time, Riesling can be found for substantially less cash than, say, white Burgundy. This is an outcome of less costly land rates quite much everywhere when compared to Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, but likewise to the fact that Riesling was associated with unimpressive and overly sweet white wines for so long.

What Does Riesling Taste Like?
Sweeter and riper designs of Riesling showcase more fruit, whereas clothes dryer ones tend to be more savory. Across the stylistic spectrum, Riesling usually boasts stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots), citrus fruit (lemon, limes) orchard fruit (apples, pears), and often a core of minerality.

Riesling is finest served chilled, though serving temperature can vary depending upon how dry or sweet the wine is, and how much of the acid or sweet taste you wish to highlight: Cooler temperature levels will frame the more bracing aspects of a Riesling, whereas serving an off-dry Riesling at a warmer temperature level will allow the sweetness and ripe fruit to shine through more plainly. And delighting in Riesling from either a Riesling-specific glass, which tends to appear like a slightly elongated white wine or universal glass, or a universal or white wine glass, will work well.
Riesling grapes in autumn harvest
Five Great Riesling Wines
There are many excellent Riesling wines on the marketplace today. These 5 producers, noted alphabetically, are a perfect method to begin checking out all that Riesling has to use.


The widely known Oregon manufacturer offers up a variety of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, in addition to champagnes. The 2020 Nuthouse Riesling, from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley is coiled with energetic acidity that brings lemon-lime flavors joined by lime leaf and Granny Smith apples, all of it fixing with a spinal column of minerality that lingers through the brilliant surface.

Cavern de Ribeauvillé

From Alsace, the 2016 Cave de Ribeauvillé Grand Cru Osterberg Riesling is extraordinary, a wine whose textbook fuel aromas are signed up with by nectarines and slate before proceeding to a taste buds of energetic, acid-zipped apricots, difficult pears and apples, lemon-lime, and verbena.

J.J. Christoffel Erben

With their 2006 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, the terrific Mosel manufacturer demonstrates how well leading German Riesling can age. This vibrates with honey-grilled pineapple, dried mangos, and gas along with a nod in the direction of maple syrup. The sweet taste is completely offset by mouthwatering level of acidity. This still has time to go, however there’s no requirement to wait. More youthful vintages of this terrific bottling are likewise worth purchasing.


Their 2020 Scielo Sparkling Riesling “On the Lees” from the North Fork of Long Island is practically cider-like, with crispy autumn apples, minerality to extra, lemon and lime pith, and a touch of lemon blossom. Best of luck not finishing the whole bottle in one sitting!

Weingut Fred Loimer

This highly regarded Austrian producer is based in Langenlois, and crafts champagnes, Grüner Veltliner, and more. His Rieslings are unsurprisingly tasty, with bottlings from a range of vineyard sites throughout the Kamptal DAC.

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