In the world of misunderstood grape varieties, Riesling is perhaps the most misconstrued of them all. For far too long, the grape was associated with mass-produced swill, jacked up with bucket loads of added sugar. However, contrary to popular belief, Riesling is actually one of the most delicious and versatile grapes in the entire world of wine, producing an array of bottles across the tasting spectrum, from a plethora of growing regions worldwide. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should change your mind about the grape, below.
Riesling Isn’t Just ‘Sweet Wine’
Although usually associated with residual sugar, much of the world’s Riesling is actually vinified bone dry. The variety is insanely aromatic, generally showing notes of white flowers, citrus, and rocks, which develop and drastically change over time. Riesling is also naturally high in acidity, producing thirst-quenching wines that definitely merit a spot on the table and in the cellar. When vinified dry, the wines are crisp, energetic, and all around satisfying.
…But When It Is, It’s Out of This World
And when vinified sweet, the wines get even better. Riesling produces some of the world’s most highly sought after dessert wines, gaining their sweet characteristic from a variety of harvest/vinification styles (late-harvest, botrytis, eiswein, etc.) These sticky sweet bottles are concentrated and rich, boasting a higher acid content (for balance) than many other wines. Their high acid and high sugar content also allows them to age impeccably-- though they may cost you a pretty penny!
Riesling is Insanely Food Friendly
Riesling is perhaps the most food-friendly variety on the planet, thanks to its high acid and diverse array of styles. On the table, dry Riesling pairs impeccably with a variety of seafoods, salads, and appetizers. Off dry examples, showing some residual sugar, are perfect for pairing with spicy foods, especially Asian and Indian cuisines. And late harvest Riesling with dessert? Perhaps the best pairing on the planet!
It Goes Far Beyond Germany
Although born in Germany’s Rhine region, Riesling is now cultivated all over the world, dominating over 50,0000 hectares of vines. Germany is definitely the grape’s most popular country, though world class expressions are also produced in Austria, France (Alsace), Australia, and the United States, specifically within Washington State. Riesling is considered one of the world’s most terroir-reflective grapes, meaning that the final wines are heavily influenced by the place in which they’re made, creating bottles with a serious sense of place.
Your Cellar Will Thank You
High quality bottles of Riesling are actually some of the most age worthy wines on the market. The wines’ naturally high acidity allows for extensive aging, and when coupled with high sugar content (which acts as a natural preservative), even better. Look to top producers and vintages for renowned bottles that will withstand the test of time!
Dustin’s Top Producer Picks for Riesling:
NYC, don't miss Rieslingfeir, one of the year's most exciting, Riesling focused tastings, next weekend! Find out more about the event, here.