Riesling  Wine


The Riesling grape is refreshing in more ways than one. Of course, as anyone who has tried true Riesling will know, it is one of the world's greatest aperitifs - naturally light and elegant yet racy, with mouth­watering citrus and apple fruit and a crisp finish. So it's refreshing in the most obvious sense of the word.

But Riesling is also refreshing in that it makes a welcome change from all the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that fills our shop shelves. It is a quite different style of wine, as will become clear below. But why the need to say 'true' Riesling

That's because this poor grape gets blamed - unfairly - for a lot of the light, white dross out there.

Many have the wrong idea about Riesling; they think it's the variety behind all the blandest, least memorable light whites, when in fact much cheaper, less well- known grapes are usually responsible for these.

If I handed you a glass of fine Riesling, you'd probably be amazed at how much delicious flavour there is in it - and how delightfully fresh, tangy and vivacious the wine seems. So don't confuse Riesling with lesser wines.

It's consistently delightful, and remarkably long-lived to boot. In fact, for many serious wine buffs, this is the greatest white grape of them all.

GERMANY Fine German Riesling is a very different creature from cheap and nasty German plonk, so if you've never tried it, give it a go. It's no surprise that this type of wine is often described as one of the trade's best kept secrets - there are plenty of aficionados out there loving it despite its untrendy image!

The cool climate here produces wines that are never over-the-top - restraint, subtlety and elegance are the watchwords here. Alcohol levels remain naturally low-seven or eight percent is not unusual in a German Riesling, and nine or ten percent is quite common (compared to twelve to fourteen percent in other table wines).


That said, the style does vary from bottle to bottle - too much so sometimes, as it can be hard to know exactly what type of Riesling you are getting by looking at the label.

Here are some tips: the Mosel region makes the prettiest, most delicate examples, with a spring-like, apple-blossom scent, although there is still a spine- tingling acidity in many; the Rheingau makes steelier, more intense, fuller-bodied versions, while the Pfalz is a progressive region that is moving with the times and turning out slightly more juicy, fruity, modern styles.
The main problem is to pick a level of sweetness that you enjoy - whether it's bone-dry and bracing, medium with a dab of honeyed weight or luscious and sticky.

Germany makes Riesling with all levels of sweetness, but you may not find reading those densely written Gothic labels very easy. This, incidentally, is one reason fine German wines have gone out of fashion - consumers find the words on, say, an Australian bottle of wine much easier to follow.

For the record: the word trocken on a label means dry, while halbtrocken means semi-dry.

Meanwhile, the top quality category of Riesling (these bottles say Qualitatswein mit Pradikat or QmP on the label), ones made to certain strict rules and regulations, are divided into six categories according to the ripeness of the grapes used, and this (rather roughly) corresponds to their dryness/sweetness levels.

Kabinett indicates dry, Spatlese is a riper, often off-dry style, and Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein follow next in order of increasing sweetness.

( Then there are certain wines which have been made from fruit grown in the best sites - Erstes Gewachs, or 'first growth'. These specific vineyard areas are named on the label.
Complicated? Yes. German Riesling takes a bit of getting to know. But it's worth it. Once you have convinced yourself, try these tantalising, lip-smacking

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