Twelve Answers to the Question: Why Riesling?



  • Why do wine lovers get so excited about Riesling?
  • Why is Riesling so hot (and so cool) right now?
  • Why is Riesling so great with food?


These are all excellent questions. Here are some answers, from our Riesling Enlightenment Series.

#1 – Riesling is immediately pleasing. Even a novice wine drinker cannot fail to be captivated by the vibrant fruit and racy crispness of a well-balanced Riesling. Further tasting experience reveals the depth and complexity that is possible in the greatest Rieslings.

#2 – Intense, explosive fruit flavors. The aroma of a good Riesling jumps out of the glass and grabs you right away. Next, its intense fruit explodes on the palate in a wave of pure delight. Like a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, the wine will walk that fine line between tart and sweet, hitting you with juicy fruit, followed by a clean, brisk finish.

#3 – Pure, fruity and unoaked. Without the influence of new oak, Riesling gives you only the pure fruit flavors of the grape itself. There’s no oaky taste, no butter, no bitterness or astringency — only juicy, satisfying Riesling fruit.

#4 – Bright, fresh and lively. Riesling’s fine structure and naturally high acidity give it a unique vibrancy, making it very crisp and refreshing. Even the most powerful, full-bodied Riesling will still be elegant and charming.

#5 – Very expressive. Because it is so pure, Riesling reflects its region and vineyard better than any other grape variety. When you drink a well-crafted Riesling from a skilled producer, you are getting a liquid snapshot of a particular time and place — in the form of a delicious beverage. This earthly connection makes the wine extremely pleasing to the senses, and especially intriguing to experienced drinkers who have learned to recognize certain regional characteristics.

#6 – Keeps its identity wherever it’s grown. In spite of the great diversity in style between the various Riesling-producing regions of the world, Riesling has a strong personality that always comes through.

#7 – Riesling is often lower in alcohol. When grown in cool climates, where ripeness is low and acidity is high, Riesling will often have low to moderate alcohol (7.5 – 10% is common in Germany), and a bit of balancing sweetness. Dry, full-bodied Rieslings can be as high as 13% alcohol, but will still have the firm, bracing structure of Riesling’s high acidity.

#8 – Tastes great young. Young Rieslings are bursting with the fresh “primary” aromas and flavors of the pure fruit. At their freshest, they are bubbly, effusive and utterly charming. They are very fun to drink at this age.

#9 – Tastes great old. After several years in the bottle (properly cellared, of course), good Rieslings start to develop the “secondary” aromas of maturity. The wines lose the bright “primary” fruit of their youth and become deeper, drier to the taste, more earthy and more complex. It is a long, slow process that can take many decades, but for serious Riesling lovers, it is a special experience, and very much worth the wait.

#10 – Diverse and versatile. The nearly infinite diversity of sweetness levels, regional styles and individual vineyards means that there is a Riesling to fit any wine-drinking situation.

#11 – Endlessly fascinating. Their great diversity also makes Rieslings the source of endless pleasure for wine lovers who have become fascinated with the unique characteristics of specific regions, vineyards and winemakers.

#12 – An exceptional value. In general, Rieslings are among the best values in the wine world. Even hand-harvested, small-batch Rieslings from steep vineyards in Germany can be quite affordable compared to wines from other regions.

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