Riesling is one of the most popular grape varieties worldwide, and in terms of wine production, ranks among the top three white grape varieties (along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc). The traditional home of Riesling is the Rhine region of Germany, especially the wine-growing sub-regions of Mosel and Rheingau.
Riesling wines are noteworthy first and foremost for being highly aromatic and high in acidity. They are usually described as having floral or tropical fruit notes. Unlike other grape varietals, Riesling is almost never blended with other grapes. Moreover, it is known for being one of the grape varietals that best expresses its native terroir.
The Riesling grapes grown in cooler climates, such as in the Rhine region and the Alsace region, tend to exhibit apple and fruity notes, together with high acidity. In warmer climates (such as Australia), the wines tend to exhibit more citrus notes (especially lime) and are lower in acidity. Due to the “noble rot” (first discovered in the late 18th century), Riesling grapes also can be used in making sweet and very flavorful dessert wines.
Among the leading regions in the world for Riesling production are Germany (where it accounts for more than 20% of all wine production), Alsace in France, Australia, New Zealand, Washington State, New York State (especially the Finger Lakes region) and California.
Riesling wines tend to be consumed when they are very young. That’s when the floral aromas and fruity notes are at their peak. As Rieslings age, they tend to acquire a unique flavor profile that some inexperienced wine drinkers have compared to kerosene or petrol.
Due to their unique balance of sugar and acidity, Riesling wines make a great food pairing option. They are best combined with white meat, fish and spicy meals.