Personally, I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet wines and tend to gravitate towards wines on the dryer side of the spectrum. For this reason, in the past I've avoided Rieslings as I always assumed that they were defined by their sweetness. However, while many Rieslings are often sweet, it's a far more diverse wine than I had previously thought.
Unlike the other “top three” white wine varietals, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling is notable for originating in Germany. Known for it’s vibrant fruity taste and high acidity, the taste of the grape itself is strongly influenced by the region in which it is grown.
The most pronounced flavor inherent in pretty much any bottle of Riesling is that of fruit. Expect to taste fruit flavors including, but not limited to, limes, lemons, pineapples, apricots, apples, and pears. The wine also has a high acidity, which gives it a refreshing tartness.
While Rielsing has a reputation for being overly sweet, it is in fact a remarkably versatile vintage that can be used to create wines that cover the entire sweetness and dryness spectrum.
If you’re partial to sweeter wines look out for Rieslings from German and Californian regions as these tend to be sweet. Meanwhile, France and Austria tend to to produce dryer Riesling options.
Thanks to its versatility, Rielsing pairs well with a variety of different foods and flavors. However, were it really stands out is with spicy food pairings. The wines sweetness and high acidity really bring out the spicy flavors in foods. It’s the perfect wine to enjoy with a strong curry, or some spicy asian fare.
Rieslings can be enjoyed with poultry such as chicken and duck, as well as shellfish like shrimp and crab. It also combines well with spices and herbs such as cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves, turmeric, and Sichuan pepper.
Thanks to its sweetness we don’t recommend pairing Rielsing with pungent cheeses. Instead, try pairing it with some soft, young cheeses.
Wines to try
As it’s fairly ubiquitous and easy drinking, there are a number of affordable Riesling options available.
Plough and Stars Organic Riesling ($8.99)
This wine is less sweet than others and offers a good amount of acidity as well as a pleasing melon aroma.
Nick Weis Selection Urban Riesling ($12)
A great example of German Rieslings, this wine is sweet, juicy, and has a delicious tart acidity.
Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling ($6.99)
This affordable option has a pleasing sweetness and strong lime and pear notes.