Pronounced rees-ling or reez-ling. A grape varietal used in the production of white wine and is used as a blending agent in the production of Ice Wine in Canada. Although the origin is unsubstantiated, the noblest variety is found in Germany. The varietal is also grown in the United States, France, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand. German and French made Riesling is of a higher quality than those made in the United States. California’s "Johannisberg Riesling" is thought to be the highest quality in the United States. Note that those California wines labeled only "Riesling" are thought to be of a much lesser quality. Because it is a noble varietal and a difficult vine to grow, true Riesling is a pricier wine.
Also known as: Weisser Riesling, Rheinriesling, Riesling Renano, Johannisberger and Johannisberg Riesling. Wines labeled Gray Riesling & Emerald Riesling are not made with the Riesling varietal.
Characteristics: A zesty wine balanced between fruit and a steely acidity. Vary from dry and crisp to full bodied and sweet. Hints of apples, peaches, honeysuckle, floral, honey, musk, and light spice. Riesling from California tends to by dry and melony, while German Riesling tends to be tart with flavors of grapefruit. Cheap Rieslings are sharp. The higher quality, pricier choices are sweet, complex and delicate.
German Riesling is graded by sweetness and labeled as: Auslese (least sweet), Beerenauslese (moderately sweet), and Trockenbeerenauslese (being of the greatest sweetness)
Ageing: Considered a fresh youthful wine, the Riesling varietal also has the ability to age into a complex, mature, mellow wine. From 10-50+ years, depending on the winemaking style. Average ageing is 2-3 years.
Serving temperature: Serve at a temperature of 40º-45º F.
Food pairing: Food friendly, Riesling is considered to be the most versatile white wine with food. An excellent aperitif, is also pairs well with oriental cuisine, seafood, chocolate, vegetarian dishes, antipasto, appetizers, asparagus, Cajun and barbecued shrimp, Cajun fish, Cajun gumbo, cannelloni with ricotta cheese, caviar, mild cheeses, mushroom dishes, poultry, poultry with garlic, poultry with barbecue, spicy poultry dishes, poultry with light sautés, poultry with cream sauce, Chinese beef dishes, chicken chow mein, egg rolls, Chinese with shrimp, Chinese with orange sauce, Szechwan, sweet and sour pork, moo shoo pork, crab cakes, Creole, desserts, smoked fish, fruit and fruit dishes, wild game, ham, Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, pasta dishes, prawns, and Sauerkraut.