Guide to Riesling Wines
Riesling [REEZ-ling] is one of the noble grape varieties and is capable of producing a variety of extraordinary white wine styles, and is most known for the sweeter-style German wine it produces. These wines contain alluring floral bouquets and are filled with peach, honey and apricot fruit flavors. The much-touted variety produced in Alsace offers the same aromas and fruit flavors but is produced in a drier style and is famous for its food pairing capability. Washington State also produces high-quality Riesling; most of these fresh wines are made in a sweeter style and are a great alternative to White Zinfandel.
It could be the world’s most misunderstood grape variety and wine. A common misconception is that Riesling only produces sweet wine. Although sweet wines dominate this category, there are some amazingly dry and complex wine is produced in Alsace, Germany and the United States. At its best, it offers fabulous floral aromas with crisp and highly flavorful pineapple, apricot, honey and citrus fruit flavors. Known for its crispness, or acidity, even sweeter style Rieslings are not overly thick and syrupy.
This grape variety dominates in Germany and the majority of the white wines produced there are made in the sweeter style. There is a classification system in place, which categorizes wines by their sweetness. From driest to sweetest, they are Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. These whites range from the semisweet, lighter style to the extremely sweet, lush and dessert wine style.
Riesling might be the opposite of Chardonnay in style, lighter in body and rarely put in contact with oak, but is more than equal in terms of versatility and complexity. In Alsace, it produces crisp and dry wines for everyday drinking to the truly complex higher end wines, also dry, often needing 5 to 10 years of aging to truly capture the essence of what this grape variety can achieve, Washington State produces similar style. In general, these crisp white wines are filled with white fruit flavors and are semisweet and should be consumed while the wine is fresh and young.
- Floral, Citrus, Apricot, Pineapple, Honey, Mineral
- Citrus, Apricot, Pineapple, Honey, Mineral
- Sweet – Very sweet with lush fruit
- Semisweet – Ripe fruit flavors with a noticeable crispness
- Dry – Crisp and clean with loads of fruit flavors
- Sweet – Dessert or Aperitif
- Semisweet – Assortment of cheese, Asian cuisine
- Dry – Seafood, Chicken
- Germany – Mosel
- France – Alsace
- Washington State – Columbia Valley