What is Riesling?
Riesling is made from a green skinned grape that has its origins in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling vines are resilient, being able to survive on hillsides, and in cold weather. It is a very aromatic wine that is seldom oaked, and offers high acidity. It ranges from dry to very sweet, and can be light to full bodied. Areas that put out a good amount of Riesling include Germany, Australia, Alsace, New York, California, and Washington. Canada also uses a significant amount of Riesling grapes to produce the ice wines they are famous for.
Style of Riesling
Generally, the Riesling styles are dry, semi-sweet, and sweet. German Riesling tends to be made in cool climates, with the acidity being balanced with the residual sugar. Germany has actually put a classification system in place to explain the sugar concentration of wines. Going from driest to sweetest: Kabinett (semi-sweet with high acidity), Spätlese (semi-sweet as well, but sweeter than Kabinett), Auslese (semi-sweet to sweet; made from very ripe grapes), Beerenauslese (sweet dessert wine made from overripe grapes), and Trockenbeerenauslese (extremely rich and sweet; made from overripe grapes that are shriveled.) Warmer climates (like in Australia and Alsace) tend to produce dry Rieslings with more citrus. The most expensive tend to be the late harvest dessert wines.
Aromas & Flavors
As mentioned, Riesling is an extremely aromatic wine. It offers up scents of rose, violet, citrus, apricot, honey, pineapple, and mineral. Some will even have an aroma of petroleum or natural gas. (This is caused by a compound that occurs during the aging process.) Flavor-wise, you will get citrus, pineapple, apricot, peach, and honey.
When it comes to food pairing, Riesling is pretty versatile. If you pop open a bottle, think about pairing it to pork, poultry, shellfish, trout, sausage, Asian food, Mexican food, and desserts. As far as cheese goes, try to stick with more delicate cheeses (i.e. cow’s milk.)
ABV & Calorie Count
The typical alcohol by volume (ABV) content of Riesling can be under 12.5%, and can get up to 13.5%. The typical calorie count is around 120 calories for a 5 ounce glass.