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Frequently Asked Questions About Riesling


Does Riesling age well?


The short answer to that is, "Good Riesling certainly ages very well." Lower quality Rieslings that are simple and meant to be drunk young won't get any better with time. However, some of Mosel's late harvest of Botrytis Riesling can age and improve for 5-10 years, while the top Trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings require a minimum of 30-40 years of aging before being truly appreciated.


Is Riesling a white wine?


Yes, it is. It tends to have a pale lime-straw color when young, and to develop a golden hue when aged.


What's the best Riesling food pairing?


Because of its characteristic crisp acidity, sommeliers worldwide love this grape variety for its food-friendliness. Are you thinking of Chinese food? A Riesling is a fantastic choice! Are you going for a Tex-Mex with cilantro? The lime notes of Riesling will beautifully accentuate the food flavors. Roasted pork, duck, or goose? The bright acidity will clean the fat from your palate. Are you a Thai food lover? The spices will be a terrific match for Riesling.


How should I serve Riesling?


The high acidity of entry-level wines is favored by serving them at about 6 degrees Celsius (43-45 Fahrenheit). If you have a finer example, with more layers of flavors and great complexity, consider serving it around 11-12°C (52-54°F).


What's Riesling’s alcohol content?


Riesling tends to be in the lower end spectrum of alcohol content, and can vary from 7-9% for some German styles up to 12-13% when thinking of an Australian Riesling. Even so, this is still quite low when considering that some oaky Chardonnays can have up to 14.5%.

Information About Riesling


Where is Riesling produced?


Riesling comes originally from Germany, but has found a home in some of the world's coldest climate wine regions such as Alsace in France, Austria, Clare Valley in Australia, and New Zealand.


What does Riesling taste like?


Rieslings that come from cold weather, when young, develop fresh lime and green apple aromatics with white flower notes. A bright, crispy acidity is also typically present, making bright, light-bodied, and refined wines. When grapes have higher sun exposure, they tend to develop stone fruit aromatics with notes such as peach and apricot, a medium body, and a more fruity expression. Sweet wines tend to be also on the ripe fruit spectrum. In addition, Riesling is known for being a grape variety that is transparent to terroir, developing mineral aromas of slate, wet stones, and smokiness. When aged, Riesling fruit and floral aromas can develop complex petrol and kerosene-like aromas.


Did you know? Riesling grapes have small grains that form very compact bunches, making them ideal for the development of noble rot. This is a mold that dries the grapes, increasing their sweetness and aromatic complexity with honeyed flavors.


Styles of Riesling


Riesling, in contrast with Chardonnay, is produced in a style with no or very little oak influence, and is typically not blended with other grapes. If a winemaker chooses to oak a Riesling, they might select used oak containers of large capacity (puncheons, demi-muid, or foudres) that provide micro-oxygenation and favor the wine with complexity and body, while the containers themselves impart very little or a neutral oak character.


Old world


Germany:


German Riesling grapes produce beautifully perfumed wines with stone fruits, flowers, honey, herbs, and spices. The German labeling system might seem a bit confusing for most consumers, as they cover several different styles from bone dry to high levels of sweetness. In general, Mosel Riesling tends to be lower in alcohol (7-9%), and because of its slate soils, is also often described as "mineral". Sweetness levels in Mosel range from lusciously sweet to bone dry. Wines from the Pfalz region typically have a little more body and a spicy twist, while Rheingau Rieslings are generally dry, fresh, and citrusy. The finest dry German Rieslings can be labeled as 'Grosses Gewächs’ – the equivalent of a French Grand Cru.


France:


Alsace is known to produce rich, full-bodied Rieslings and luscious and honeyed dessert wines. Alsace's vineyards are terraced at an altitude of 200m-400m, offering a rather unique terroir that favors biodynamic farming and produces perfumed and complex full-bodied, textured, dry Rieslings. Alsatian producers also make a sweet vendange tardive style and a lusciously rich sélection de grains nobles (noble rot).


Austria:


After the Rhine basin, the Danube basin is the second most important home to Riesling, mainly the Lower Austria and the Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal regions. The terraced vineyards of the Wachau offer a steep, thin, rocky terrain which, along with the cold temperatures, produces aromatic, delicate, lean, mineral, and dry Rieslings. In contrast, the richer soils of Kremstal give birth to slightly gentler and plumper Rieslings.


New world


Australia:


Although Australia is known to be a warm country, the Eden Valley and Clare Valley are cold enough to retain the fresh aromatics of Riesling. Expect bright, mouth-wateringly dry, lime-like styles with amazing aging potential, and which develop a mineral and kerosene character over the years. On the other hand, Tasmania makes a much more fruity and perfumed profile with bright acidity.


New Zealand:


Marlborough’s cold climate gives Riesling grapes the ideal conditions to ripen slowly, producing tangy, peachy, and lemon-scented wines with a light body.


North America:


Riesling is grown in the Great Lakes, the Columbia River Basin, and California. America has been producing Rieslings since the 1950s, pointing to a soft, fruity, and slightly sweet style, although in recent years, winemakers have been leaning toward drier styles.

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