Riesling Wine Guide
Riesling is one of the finest white wines produced in the world: it is a particular, fine, delicate, fragrant wine, with an intriguing charm, a notable acidity, but a few degrees. Not infrequently there are also bottles of Riesling on the market with an alcohol content of 7-9 degrees, especially among Moselle wines (German wines).
Among the fans, it is perhaps the most sought after, the most elitist, the most pyrotechnic for its unique organoleptic characteristics, starting with the typical hydrocarbon aromas.
Where Riesling was born
Its chosen homeland is Germany, where the vine would have been born according to legend and the areas of main interest all wind along the course of the Rhine or the Moselle river, we remember the “crus” of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Nahe and Pfalz.
If we cross the border, we will savor the other side of Riesling, the Alsatian, more full-bodied and fruity and alcoholic.
Riesling has a particularity, in addition to its lightness of body, it is a wine that presents itself with various degrees of sweetness, a particular technique used to balance the powerful acidity of the wine.
Classification of German Riesling
The range and types of Riesling are impressive, starting from trocken, then dry, an excellent aperitif to arrive at the completely dehydrated clusters of the Trockenbeernauslese, where sweetness becomes poetry.
Now, thanks to global warming, it is true that winemakers often produce purer and completely sugar-free wines, but we are only at the beginning of the Riesling revolution.
The classification is not immediately simple, the names are in German or French, so now let’s see in more detail how Rieslings are called based on their sweetness.
Let’s start with German wines. When a Riesling is Trocken it means that it is dry, dry, with no sugar residue.
When it is Spätlese it means that we are dealing with a late harvest and a greater structure, they can be dry or a hinted sugar content, sweet, but not much.
The sweetest sweet wines are opened by Riesling Auslese, intense wines that age and whose clusters may have been attacked by noble rot.
One step above we find the molds, the Beerenauslese are Rieslings obtained from clusters that have undoubtedly been attacked by botrytis cinerea
Let’s continue with the finest, talking about the Eiswein, the ice wines, whose clusters also freeze during the cold. The sugar concentration increases considerably.
And we end up with the sweetest and most refined, the Trockenbeernauslese, more unique than rare wines, whose clusters undergo extreme drying, practically dry raisins are squeezed, but the nectar that is born is fabulous, like the cost of these bottles.
Let’s go to France
If we are in France we have the first level of sweetness with the classic late harvest (the late harvest that is also practiced in Italy) and then the grand finale: the wines born from Botrytis cinerea. The noble rot that sticks to the clusters and dehydrates them, exponentially increasing the sugar in the berries. Grapes are then harvested with several harvests, sometimes even one by one. A painstaking work that takes the name of Sélection de Grains Nobles. It is not exclusive to Riesling, however, attention, Gewurztraminer in Alsace can also be a Sélection de Grains Nobles.
But let’s go back to our beloved wine, which thanks to this peculiarity, to the thousand shades of sweetness it can offer, is not only multifaceted and glowing but is also one of the most flexible wines when it comes to food-wine pairing.
A touch of sweetness will help you with difficult combinations of fish, with cheeses, sweet and sour dishes or dishes with citrus fruits and sauces that need a bite shoulder. Not for nothing is it one of the best wines for pairing with spicy Indian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. A sweet touch and a low amount of alcohol also help with very spicy dishes.
But let’s get to the organoleptic characteristics of Riesling, how can we recognize it?
The nose is not opulent like a Gewurztraminer, but fine, with hints of peach, citrus, hydrocarbons, other mineral tones, few aromatic herbs and more stone tones. The presence of hydrocarbon-kerosene and gasoline seems odd and is not always taken for granted, but it adds a very intriguing touch. Don’t expect to smell a can of diesel, every scent is a sigh in Riesling, everything is set to finesse.
What does Riesling taste like?
Riesling is a delicate wine that is aged in large barrels or exhausted barriques, you will never find a Riesling that tastes of vanilla and butter, and if you found it it would be a disaster, its delicate charm would be stifled. Refine in large barrels, which know how to sculpt flavor and acidity, without adding any perfume. It is not like Chardonnay which can take on a thousand faces and in practice clay in the hands of the winemaker. Riesling has only one and does not tolerate even a trace of makeup, it is like a rose, graceful and sensitive.
However, it is a wine that has a great personality, is savory, has many flavors of stone and graphite, an intriguing acidity and a lot of elegance. Over time, you will find the type of Riesling you like, from dry to honeyed ones, real oenological pearls. However, remember that both structure and alcohol content are always very low, so expect fleshy and vertical wines, but never muscular.
That’s all, we are done, but we want to give you some advice. Be patient with Riesling, it is the least immediate wine of all and the palate must be educated for tasting. Perhaps the first few times it is unsettling to taste an almost oily Riesling full of strange scents, but then little by little you will learn and unravel the skein. In the meantime, you can start with South Tyrolean Rieslings, very mineral and clean, but easily available, and then make comparisons with the German ones.
Riesling food pairings
Riesling is a particular wine that thanks to its incredible combination of sweetness and acidity succeeds in extreme combinations with acidic, sweet and sour, spicy or spicy dishes. The extreme spiciness doesn’t go well with any wine, however, a light spiciness is compensated very well by the residual sugar of the Riesling.