What is Riesling wine? That is the question that’s probably lingering in your mind. Well, you are on the right blog because we will finally put an end to that thought.
Here, we will tell you what Riesling wine is and its history. Also, its varieties and characteristics. Information about how it tastes and looks is also written in this post. Plus, we have exciting trivia just for you.
What are you waiting for? Let’s not waste any more time!
Riesling & History
Grapes have many varieties, and Riesling is one of those. Riesling grapes are the primary reason why we can enjoy the goodness of one of the noteworthy wines. So, let us start by introducing it.
Riesling grapes have been widely grown in Germany since 2015. 56,000 acres of land in Germany, cumulatively from Nahe, Mosel, Pfalz, and Rheingau, are used to produce this variety.
But, worldwide, Riesling grapes are known too. In Australia, 10 300 acres of land are used for these grapes. While in the United States, they have 9000 hectares of Riesling grape plantation. France, New Zealand, and Austria have also contributed to these varieties’ production.
So, are you wondering why Riesling grapes are popular? If you are, then keep on reading!
Riesling grapes have already been in use since 1402. Evidence of its existence is written in orthographies from different periods and places. Riesling was initially spelled as “Rießlingen” based on these writings. But, it became modern as time went by.
Then and now, Riesling is considered one of the noblest and most expensive beverages. No wonder people are still investing their time farming Riesling grapes and turning them into wines.
Enough with histories! So, what is Riesling wine?
What is Riesling Wine?
|Off-Dry or Dry
|Light or Medium
Riesling wines are alcoholic beverages made from the famous grape variety called Riesling. It is an aromatic and floral-scented drink that’s been gaining popularity because of its distinct characteristics.
Riesling wine is considered white wine. But, it has wide varieties too. Riesling is sweet and highly acidic. This wine is usually consumed in European countries.
3 characteristics of Riesling of wine
Riesling wine is a noble wine that many people enjoy. Well, we can’t blame them for that! Here are the general characteristics of Riesling wine– probably why people love them.
- High Acidity – Riesling wines are known for having high acid levels. They are often related to the acidity of lemons which is pH 2. A lot of Riesling wines have a pH of about 2.9 to 3.4. This is considered highly acidic compared to a pH 7 acidic base.
- Taste – Have you ever asked yourself what Riesling wine tastes like? If yes, then fine, we will reveal it to you. Riesling wines are fruity, especially young ones. You may probably taste a hint of pear, apples, grapefruit, lemon, apricot, and nectarine if you drink it.
- Aroma – Riesling wine, to be honest, has a weird smell. It often smells like mineral, earthy, and flowery components, such as honeycomb, ginger, citrus blossom, beeswax, petrol, rubber, and diesel or fuel.
The rubber and diesel smell makes some people uncomfortable, but believe us when we say it is how it should be. These smells are indicators that the Riesling wine is of the best quality.
Varieties of Riesling Wine & German Labels
The talk about the varieties of Riesling wine is confusing since there is no particular rule in this one. But, there are 6 popular categories that we can rely on.
Dry, off-dry, sweet, semi-sweet, dessert-style, and sparkling-style, in particular. In addition, German labeling is also used to identify each category. You can also notice these labels in local stores if they are following the German Wine Standards. So it is ideal to familiarize yourself with them.
Also, we added a section in the table that says where the specific variety is made of. Let’s go through the categories one by one! No worries, you can save this guide for future reference.
|Variety of Riesling wine
|Dry and off-dry wine
|The first harvest, Unripe
|The Second harvest, fully ripe
|Late harvest, Riesling from cold climates
|Beerenauslese & Trockenbeerenauslese
|Rieslings that are starting to rot
|Combination of various grapes, but mostly Riesling
International Riesling Foundation
International Riesling Foundation, or IRF, is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the Riesling industry. They conducted further research and studies about this wine and how to improve it.
In that sense, IRF developed Riesling Sugar Guidelines to help consumers and sellers know the wine’s acidity and sugar level (per liter). You can visit their website for a more detailed explanation about this.
IRF also constructed a Riesling Taste Profile which is free to use. This taste profile is a scale that determines where the wine lies between the dry to sweet spectrum. IRF encourages Riesling sellers to use this profile to give buyers a glimpse of what they can expect in every purchase of the wine.
Indeed, using these tools is challenging. But, if you use them hand-in-hand, you’ll see how helpful it is. For example, the pH level, acidity, and sugar level you can get from the Riesling Sugar Guidelines can become your data in making the Riesling Taste Profile.
Note that constructing the Riesling Taste Profile is the winemaker’s duty. If you are a buyer, don’t worry about this. But, it would be handy if you knew how to read it, too, especially if you encounter a Riesling bottle with this information.
Riesling wine & food pairings
Generally, a Riesling wine will suit spicy food. This is because drinks that are low in alcohol tend to taste better with fiery dishes. Riesling wine’s alcohol by volume is 12 percent only, which means its alcohol is medium-low.
Although the percentage is subject to change, most Rieslings lie between low to medium low since it is produced in colder climates like France and Germany.
There are two reasons behind the perfect combination of Riesling wine and spicy dishes. First, because of the content, as we said. The second is its fruity and sweet taste.
The low alcohol of Riesling overpowers the fiery sensation when eating spicy food. The same goes for its sweetness. The same reason applies to beverages that are high in alcohol. The alcohol and spiciness don’t blend well in the mouth.
In the meantime, here are some specific pairings you can do with a bottle of Riesling.
|Variety of Riesling wine
|Dry & Off-dry Riesling
|Sushi, vegetables, pork and poultry dishes, seafood like fish and shellfish, goat cheese, creamy sauces
|Curry dishes, roasted pork, ham, hotdog, seafood, sausages
|Foie gras, crab, avocados rich cheese, goat cheese
|Pies, caramel, peaches, and cream, apple
|Soft cheese, sweet dishes, salads, seafood
It is evident that Riesling wines are versatile and can be paired with almost anything. You just have to take some risks and try them.
This clip will aid you in a better understanding of the concept. We recommend watching it!
4 interesting trivia about Riesling wine
1. Riesling wines can age for decades
Yes! Riesling wines can age for decades! This is the secret to why even then, people are already drawn into making, selling, and purchasing this wine. Riesling wines are like investments!
Riesling wines can last for more than 10 years. Even more if in the proper condition and the quality is not compromised.
2. Petrol or diesel aromas indicate that the Riesling wine has aged well
As mentioned, Riesling wines can last for decades. But, some people are afraid to store it for that long because it develops a more pungent smell of petrol and diesel.
Well, worry more because this is your confirmation that it is normal. In fact, it indicates that the wine is of its best quality.
Although it may seem unpleasant, don’t let it stop you from drinking Riesling wine.
3. The Kingdom of Riesling is Germany
No, we are not talking scientifically here!
Germany is considered the kingdom of Riesling since it is the major contributor to the production of this grape and wine variety. The total land acres alone where they plant Riesling grapes are already remarkable.
We cannot deny the fact that Germany is the benchmark when it comes to Riesling wines. They even have their own labeling and standards for it.
4. Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese is the most expensive Riesling ever made and sold
Egon Muller, a German producer of this wine, sold it for €12,000 per bottle at an auction. This happened right after its release.
We learned that Riesling wine is one of the historical beverages the world is enjoying. It has many stories, not just from ancient history but also from how it is being made in the present.
Did this blog answer your question about what is Riesling wine? We hope it does! Also, do not forget to try the food pairings we included here. Watch out for the next post!
George Moore, co-founder of Wine Flavor Guru, is a charismatic entrepreneur with a rich background in California’s wine industry. Alongside Sylvia, he transformed a Sonoma County vineyard into a source of premium wines. George’s expertise in sourcing exceptional grapes and his approachable style make wine appreciation both accessible and engaging.