The Reasoning Behind My Love Of Riesling
Riesling has become one of my favourite varietals and there are many reasons for my love of Riesling. Its’ versatility, food friendliness, finesse and complexity are among them. As well as the fact I have just grown to enjoy it as a go-to sipping wine for any occassion. It is also one of the most misunderstood varietals for not all Rieslings are “sweet”. Riesling can range from dry to very sweet like Eiswein.
Riesling also happens to be one of the most mis-pronounced varietals (Correctly pronounced REECE-LING or REES-LING).
As one of the worlds most versatatile grapes, Riesling has been recognized as a top quality varietal since the 16th century and is considered by many experts to be the finest white grape in the world. Riesling, being native to Germany, has been extensively planted throughout the Mosel and Rhine since the late Middle Ages and even earlier since the first records using the word Riesling date back to 1435. In modern times it is now grown all over the world. The best examples coming from cooler regions such as Germany, Alsace, Washington State, Australia, California and Ontario.
An interesting aspect is its’ slow ripening. The Riesling grape has the ability to retain its acidity while achieving high sugar levels. This lends to the wines considerable ageing potential as well the balancing of sweetness with acidity. Sweetness without acidity equals a ‘syrupy’ or ‘honeyed’ effect. Its’ acidity is also an important component when it comes to food pairings. Whether it is a dry or sweeter version, it is a constant palate cleanser making each bite of food taste like the first bite. It is said to be second only to Champagne in this regard. Also, Rieslings tend to be lower in alcohol (often 10-11%) meaning it won’t overwhelm the dish.
A uniqueness which I love about this varietal, is that it can be vinified in so many ways. Rieslings can be dry, off dry, semi sweet, sweet or very sweet such as late harvest or Eiswein (ice wine). Typical characteristics of this grape consist of apple, apricot, grapefruit, lemon, lime and even honey. The bouquet or nose can be floral and is often very aromatic. Rieslings are also delicate yet complex, meaning it can have finesse as well as multiple layers of flavours and bouquets.
In general, pair lighter, drier and crispier Rieslings with delicate fish, poultry and even appetizers. Sweeter and fuller Rieslings match well with Asian, Thai, chicken, pork and even Mexican and Mediterrainian. Remember, sweet likes spicy and salty.
Should you have a bottle of Ice Wine kicking around chill it first then try with blue cheese or (if you can’t get blue cheese past your nose), try it with fresh strawberries.
Cheers to Riesling!