Alsace, France - ""Riesling is the most emblematic of Alsace grape varieties. Its delicate bouquet, the fine balance between its dry personality, its distinguished fruitiness and its natural vitality contribute to its exceptional richness.""
For centuries, French wines have set standards to inspire winemakers around the world. No other country has France’s long history of fine wine production, which has helped define wine styles around the world.
How significant is France in the world of wine? The most popular international grape varieties, from Chardonnay to Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon, are native to France. In many years France produces (and consumes!) more wine than any other country. Its production and export of fine wines is unmatched.
The ancient Greeks were the first to take advantage of France’s potential for wine production, as they planted vines in their colonies along the Mediterranean coastline more than 2,500 years ago. After the Romans conquered Gaul in 51 B.C., they took vines and winemaking practices north across the land. In the following centuries, Christian monasteries became centers for viticulture, and their monks made pioneering advances in both winemaking and distilling. By the Middle Ages, the English had already recognized the excellence of wines of France, and while they controlled Bordeaux they expanded the region’s existing vineyards to supply the brand-new export market.
High-quality German Riesling, Alsace Riesling and Riesling wines from select U.S. regions are some of the world’s great wines. Because Riesling is rarely made with oak or blended with other grapes, its dry wines showcase the varietal’s pure green apple, citrus and peach flavors with bright and refreshing acidity; sweeter versions offer unique flavors of tropical fruit, honey, spice, smoke and sometimes even a hint of petrol.
In Germany, where the variety originates, Riesling wine labels indicate five different sweetness categories: Kabinett (dry to off-dry), Spätlese (sweet), Auslese (sweeter), Beerenauslese (very sweet) and Trockenbeerenauslese (super sweet). Winemakers in nearby Alsace, France, are known more for their dry Riesling wines.