Riesling is a versatile variety which makes expressive and often long lived wines and is likely to have originated in the Rheingau region in Western Germany. The earliest recorded mention is around 1435 but winemaking in the region goes back to Roman times. As is typical with much of Europe it was the hospitality of the Monks in their Monasteries which helped raise the profile of this Noble variety.
The spread of Germany's wines, most notably their Riesling, was probably down to the River Rhine being a major transportation route, however the quality and demand was clearly a factor because in the late 1800s German Riesling was more popular and commanded higher prices than the red wines of Bordeaux.
There are a few similarly named varieties that are mistakenly thought to be Riesling. This confusion is perhaps a hinderance to the popularity of the delicious original. Welschriesling, Riesling Italico, Cape Riesling and Clare Riesling are not the same grape and will not offer the same characteristics or quality potential. Another hinderance to the popularity of German wine is that, when we visit the country, we often want to drink the incredible beers on offer!
Riesling is planted and used to make fantastic wines all across the world. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, the USA and Canada all produce great examples in a variety of styles. In Europe there are glorious options most famously from Alsace in France but in Austria too. There are also vineyards planted to Riesling in the far East of Europe and across Asia.
In the vineyard Riesling is a very hardy vine which copes admirably in the cooler climate regions, it buds late which helps it avoid the problems of spring frosts but it has a preference for a long, slow ripening season to develop to its full potential. In regions or vintages where it is too warm it can ripen too quickly leaving it without enough flavour profile to make good wines.
Food Matches for Riesling
A superb Aperitif and brilliant with a Cheese Board, this is an excellent wine for soaking up some sunshine on the terrace outside a Wine Bar. Imagine, if you will, enjoying some sunshine with a bottle of Fritz Willi at The Wine Press down at Dundee's Waterfront.
Two of the most notable features of Riesling contribute hugely to its versatility. The first is that naturally occurring, mouth-watering, fresh acidity which make it a wonderful food friendly wine and the second is its ability to taste great with different levels of residual sugar. Younger wines usually offer a delightful crisp fresh citrus flavour and often strong hints of green apple. With age it develops beautifully and some offer that extra special Riesling X-Factor that fans of the grape crave.
As with many regions where a grape is dominant the local cuisine is the best place to start for pairings. White meats like pork are superb with Riesling. The dry wines offering orchard fruit can act in a similar way to an apple sauce. The more citrus fruit tasting versions lend themselves very nicely to chicken dishes.
Seafood forms an ideal partnership with these wines, from traditional fish and chips to Sea Bass and Sole to cured fish. A star of the show is arguably the pairing with Crab, Hugh Johnson, one of the finest wine writers says that "crab and Riesling together are part of the Creator's plan". Other crustaceans are also cracking options for pairing.
The freshness of the wines make them great for salads and vegetarian dishes too, whether its a Greek Salad with crumbly Feta or a delicious asparagus based starter.
Examples that have residual sugar make a great match with spicy foods, the hotter the food the higher the sugar level. One great thing about Riesling is that even when you have high residual sugar the wines retain that natural high acidity which keeps everything fresh. If you're looking for a wine to accompany Asian food then look no further than Riesling.
Discover our Riesling Collection
Discover our versatile and delicious Collection of wines made from the Riesling grape and don't forget, if you're looking for a particular wine, please reach out to our team who'll be happy to help. Alternatively you can always explore our Wine Discovery Guide or Wine Collections for some inspiration.