Wines, like fashion, often go in cycles in terms of their popularity. Such is the case with Riesling, which has come and gone in popularity in the world throughout its long existence, which dates back at least to the 15th century. Right now it seems to be surging in popularity again, and many white wine lovers are taking note of this new (and old) varietal.
This type of grape is believed to be indigenous to the German region, and there is evidence it has been planted there since at least the early part of the 1400s, coming from the Rhine region. Today it can be found growing in Germany still, as well as France, Australia, Austria, Canada, and on the east and west coasts of the United States.
Aromas and Tastes
This type of grape can produce a very wide variety of flavors, ranging from dry to sweet, but most often will be fruity and light. It has a fruity aroma, often apple, pear, or peach, and can be floral as well.
Reading the Labels
Part of choosing a great white wine is knowing how to properly read the labels. There are many things that you can determine from the label, and it’s important to be able to differentiate between different wines by knowing what kind of information it contains. If you purchase a “New World” version of this wine, the bottles should have labels printed in English, making it easy for the American consumer to read and understand them. They generally will contain an indication of whether it is dry, medium dry, or sweet, which can be tremendously helpful as you are deciding which to purchase.
If you decide to go for a more authentic bottle that comes straight from Germany, you will need to be able to determine what the labels say so you can get the best one. For these wines, most of the information centers around how much sugar is in the grapes. The German government requires that they are identified by one of three different categories, ranked by the quality of the wines: (1) Deutchertaflewein (DTW) is the lowest quality, (2) Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbangeblet (QbA) is the medium quality, and the grapes will meet a certain sugar and alcohol content, and (3) Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP), or “wines of distinction” are the highest quality. In the highest quality category, there are also six subcategories, which are ranked based on the amount of sugar in the wine—more sugar is indicative of higher quality.
These labels may also have information about the region in which it was grown (Anbaugebiet), a proof number that certifies it has been approved by the German government (AP Number, or Amtliche Prufungs Nummer), and may also show that it was grown in a single vineyard (Einzellage).
Pairing the Wine
There are many different dishes that you can pair with this wine, but there are also some you should avoid—specifically you should avoid dishes with garlic and olives, lamb, and tomato sauces. However, it does go very well with sushi, many varieties of fish, and lighter meats such as pork, chicken, and veal. Because it pairs so well with fish it has become tremendously popular to pair with Asian cuisine.
While it may not have the same popularity as other white wines here in America, choosing Riesling is definitely a great option when you are looking to pair it with lighter fare and need a white wine that is truly distinct.