Riesling is a white grape with many names - Weisser Riesling, Rheinriesling, Riesling Renano, and Johannisberg Riesling. Riesling is usually made to be a sweet wine, although it can also create a dry wine as well. In a way, sweet riesling is the 'precusor' to White Zinfandel - Riesling is the wine that "sweet tooth" drinkers sought out before White Zinfandel became available.
The Riesling grape is believed to be indigenous to Germany, and has been planted there since the fourteenth century. Riesling does the best in Germany and in California, but is also grown in the Alsace region of France, in Austria, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Riesling is the most planted grape in the Rhine Valley in Germany, and people who talk about a "Rhine Wine" (that rhymes!!) are talking about a Riesling. Riesling and Rhine Wines were very popular in England in past centuries. In fact in Hamlet, the wine that the Danish court gets drunk with every night is a Rhine Wine!
Most German riesling wines are labeled "Kabinet". This is simply the most basic category of wine in Germany, as compared with special types of wine which are harvested late in season to have added sweetness.
Riesling is a late-ripening grape, and only has a moderate yield. This makes it difficult to grow, and often the price reflects this. A cheap Riesling might be sharp, but a well grown riesling will be a sweet but complex white wine that ages very well. Riesling is affected by where it is grown - Californian Rieslings tend to be dry and have a melony taste, while Germanic Rieslings are more tart and 'grapefruity'. Other typical Riesling flavors include fruity and floral, as well as honey and musky. Rieslings should be served cool at 47F (but not as cold as fridge temperature).
Riesling goes very well with oriental dishes. It also goes well with seafood of all types, and is one of the few wines that goes well with chocolate. It is also great on its own, as a dessert wine. In Ontario, Canada, Riesling is used in the creation of Ice Wines
Pronouncing the Word Riesling
Note that Riesling does NOT rhyme with Rhine NOR with Wine. The way you pronounce Riesling is Reeee-zling. It is NOT REYE-sling like eyeball. Just like Riedel glassware is Reeeee-dle, like needle, and not Reye-dell like Ridell High in Grease.
The reps at Riedel concur - they say that's the way the owners pronounce their name and how the wine is pronounced. They should know! Plus, in the German and Austrian languages, that is how the letters Rie are pronounced. If the Germans want an "Eye" sound, the spell it Rhei, like in the Rhein River (that's the German spelling of Rhine) and in Rhinegold. Rie = Reeeeeach for the moon. Rhi = REYEball that moon from afar.
German Wine Regions
All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.