Riesling: Versatility in a Bottle

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In the United States, the word Riesling is nearly always synonymous with a “sweet white wine”. You might be surprised to learn that the majority of Riesling consumed in Germany (the grape’s homeland) and around the world is dry. You may be further surprised to learn that Riesling is a grape that is prized for its versatility and ability to age for years, even decades, in the bottle without losing its freshness.


There are several reasons for Riesling’s versatility and drinkability. The first is the fact that the Riesling grapevine is suitable for cool climates - the vine can endure cold winters and it buds late, avoiding the devastation of spring frosts. Secondly, as the grapes ripen, they can be left on the vine for a mid- to late harvest, depending on the style desired, without losing its refreshing acidity or balance.


The range of Riesling styles is more than dry to very sweet based on harvest timing. The climate of the winegrowing region plays a part in the final style of the wine as well. Rieslings can range from floral and green fruits in cooler climates to wines that exhibit aromas and flavors of citrus and stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots).



While Germany is the home to Riesling, you can find delicious examples of the wine from Alsace in France, Austria, Australia, South Africa, Washington State, New Zealand, and the Finger Lakes region in New York State. To better understand how to buy a Riesling, whether dry or very sweet, read our article on deciphering a German wine label.


 Join the Memphis Wine Society at The Celebration of Riesling on March 20, 2024 to learn about this tasty grape and sample examples from around the world.