In my never ending search to quench my thirst for information, I’ve decided to research several varietals of wine.
Why? Why not? It gives me a great excuse to drink and find out the characteristics of these wines. But where to start first? Why my wine of choise, rieslings of course!
Obviously I have a bias towards rieslings. But there’s a reason for this: It’s tempermental on where the grapes grow prefering the cooler regions of wine growing regions. When made correctly, it can be light and sweet…sort of like yours truly.
Okay, narcissism aside, there’s much to respect about rieslings. For one, they’ve been around for a long time, as far back as 1435 by some accounts. It originates in Germany’s Rhein and Mosel river valleys, and has a lineage almost 600 years old.
If ever there was an argument for terrior, riesling is it, taking on the taste of the minerals and soils from which the grapes are grown.
True Riesling wine is sometimes hard to identify because it is sold as both Johannisberg Riesling and White Riesling in North America. Gray Riesling, Emerald Riesling,Sylvaner Riesling, Franken Riesling, Monterey Riesling and even Sonoma Riesling should be considered different varietals. UPDATE: in the comments, Alice points out the following about how US rieslings are no longer being called Johannisberg Riesling:
Here’s the blurb from Chateau Ste. Michelle:
“Starting with this 2004 bottling, the term “Johannisbergˮ will no longer be used as a part of the varietal name of our Riesling. In the United States, Riesling has often been called Johannisberg Riesling, after the German city of Johannesburg, which is famous for Riesling. The term has also been used as an indicator of an off-dry style of Riesling. However, it is not a true varietal designation and no longer considered an appropriate designation according to federal alcohol regulations. The style of our popular Riesling will remain the same.”
So what should you be looking for in a riesling? Dry or sweet, a riesling should have a crispness about it, not being dragged down by alcohol.
TypicalGerman rieslings run around 8% alcohol content, as opposed to the 13-14% found in typical wines, but the other two great wine regions for riesling, Alsace and Austria, do dryer styles (excluding the dessert wines), that have alcohol levels around 11-13.5%.
So what tastes should you look for in rieslings? They’re generally very fruity, and can have the subtle tastes of apples, peaches, apricots and melons. Some will also have floral undertones. The sweeter rieslings also have honey undercurrents as well.
Mmmm…Rieslings. I’m going to enjoy drinking this stuff.