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RieslingFragrant and Floral Riesling

Perhaps the world’s greatest wine variety of them all is Riesling. Red wine lovers will argue this point, but no other grape has the ability to make as wide a variety of styles of wine as does Riesling, and all are considered superb. Rieslings from Germany set the international standard for this grape variety, but there have been Riesling variations from New York State (notably the drier wines), Washington, Oregon, and the upper Midwest (Michigan, Ohio) that are stellar examples of Riesling.

Plant  in:

Riesling is best planted in poor soils that have good drainage, and notably in slate or granitic soils. “The poorer the soil, the better the wine.”


The Riesling vine is moderately vigorous and productive, but this is one grape that does respond to smaller tonnage per acre.

Harvest Expectation:

Relatively early for a dry wine, but later-picked dessert-style wines are all the rage among some wine collectors. It’s always best to harvest Riesling when the acids are still strong.

Climate Regions for Riesling:

It is best grown in colder climates. Riesling can be grown in warmer regions, but extreme care in harvest date must be taken. Too late and the acids in the wine are compromised.

Cluster Sizes:

Small and winged.

Countries where Riesling  grows well:

Germany, Alsace (France), Australia (almost all Riesling wines are bone dry); New Zealand (off-dry), California’s cooler regions, Oregon, especially Washington state.

Details on importance to the world scene:

One of the greatest of all grapes that makes wines that not only live for decades in the bottle, but do so in dry and sweet versions as well.

Classic Styles:

Exotically floral and spicy. Riesling usually offers a lots of complexity, with some slate/mineral notes. There are many versions of this wine, but almost none of them are aged in new oak. Some are aged in older casks.

Styles recently produced:

There are many less expensive versions of Riesling made in California that are sweet and not very interesting. The classic styles from Germany (which include Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese) can be luscious and genuinely classic. There are also bone dry styles that are age-worthy for decades.


Riesling makes a wine that is a bit hard to sell in the United States since few consumers know whether the wine they will buy is dry or sweet. As a result, the International Riesling Foundation, based in New York, has developed sweetness guidelines that can assist wineries in determining how to use a chart on their wine labels to help consumers know what the sweetness level of each wine is.


The best Rieslings can age a long time. Cheaper versions are best consumed young.

Food suggestions :

Dry versions work with all sorts of foods that also call for Chardonnay, and the slightly sweet versions work nicely with spiced Asian foods. Dessert wine versions of Riesling are sensational all by themselves.