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The Riesling Wine Grape:

So Much More than Sweet

Riesling Wine Grape

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The History of Riesling

Riesling has a long and storied history in Germany's Rhine Valley, where it is believed to have originated - perhaps from a cross between the Traminer and Gouais Blanc which were common to the region during the Middle Ages. It has also long been grown in France's Alsace region where it is still a major varietal. Today, Riesling is one of the top 20 grapes grown worldwide, and is considered one of the finest white wine grapes.

Qualities of the Riesling Grape

The Riesling vine grows best in cool climates, despite being a late budder and a late-maturing variety. The vine's hard wood also helps it withstand frosty winter temperatures that might be damaging to other varieties. Vines are grown in such cool climates that in some areas there is frost before all bunches have been harvested, which can then be used to produce sweet 'ice wines'. Grapes also take well to botrytis 'noble rot' for an equally distinctive style of dessert wine.

Riesling Wine Characteristics

Body: light to medium
Acidity: medium to high
Flavors: Can display a wide variety of flavors depending on style, region and age, such as apple and peach in dry wines; honey and rose blossom in sweeter styles; and even a complex petroleum note given time to age.

Regions Where Riesling is Grown

- Germany's Rhine Valley and in the Mosel
- France's Alsace region
- Austria
- In the New World, Australia and New Zealand have some production, in addition to California and Canada's Niagara 'lakes' region

Riesling Fast Facts

- Bottled by varietal name in all major Riesling regions
-
In Germany, levels of sweetness are noted on the label from totally dry going up to the sweetest dessert wines: trocken, halbtrocken, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese
- Famous Producers: Dr. Loosen, Joh. Jos. PrĂ¼m, Hugel, Trimbach
- Appealing while young, but can be extremely long-lived - sweeter styles in particular - as much as 30-50 years

Riesling Wine & Food Pairing

- Pairing depends on level of sweetness - dry to off-dry (<1% sugar) are great with turkey, salty foods or cheeses, and Thai or spicy dishes.
- Easy Food and Wine pairings with Riesling:
      Potato Bacon Soup with Cheddar and Leeks

Here are some of our favorites:

   2007 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling
Slightly sweeter but nicely balanced. This value selection shows more complexity with food. ($9)

2002 Charles Schleret Riesling
This dry Riesling shows mature character in its classic petrol aroma and creamy mouthfeel. ($25)

Next Wine Grape:  Sauvignon Blanc Wine Grape

 



 

 


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