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The Quick Guide to Riesling

The Quick Guide to Riesling

Riesling grapes

Riesling is an aromatic grape that dates back as far as 1435. Despite some misconception, it is not solely a sweet wine. Depending on the region where the grapes are grown and how the wines are stored, it’s possible to find quite a few dry Rieslings on the market, and they each pair perfectly with diverse foods for the ultimate balance. To find a dry Riesling from Germany, search for a bottle with the word ‘trocken’, the German word for dry. 

Riesling grapes are most widely grown in Germany but are also commonly produced in Croatia, Slovenia, America and Australia. From slate to granite to limestone, this grape thrives in many different soils that impact the wine’s final profile. In the Sommelier’s Notebook video below, Master Sommelier Matthew Kaner states that Riesling is the 20th most planted grape variety globally with near unrivalled popularity because of the number of expressions it can produce in addition to its ability to age. 

Riesling’s high acidity and sugar contents are what makes it incredibly age-worthy. To this day, bottles from the early 1900s are still drinking at an incredible level. Kaner also reveals that there are still some from as early as the 1700s, which would still be beautiful. 

What Food Should I Pair Riesling With?

Dry Riesling: Oysters, charcuterie and cheese, or fish.

Off-Dry or Sweet Riesling: Roast duck or any spicy foods, particularly Asian food. The spice sits on your tongue, and the Riesling sweetness helps refresh your palate for the next bite. 

Tasting Notes

Whether the Riesling is dry or sweet, the profile will have abundant and vivid floral and fruit flavors. Lime, peach and apples are often on the forefront, as well as the well-known flavor of “a freshly opened can of tennis balls”, as described by Ian Cauble in SOMM 1.

See Also
Chardonnay wine grape - SOMM TV

Watch part of the episode of Sommelier’s Notebook from SOMM TV below, as Matthew Kaner, well-known Master Sommelier, tastes through 4 different Rieslings.

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