riesling two glasses wine cheese

Wine 101

Happy Birthday, Riesling! Wine Description and Food Pairings

March 11, 2021

Written By Coravin

March 13th marks an important day on the wine calendar: Riesling’s birthday! On this day way back in 1435, a cellar log of Count Katzenelnbogen in the Rheingau region of Germany includes the first documented evidence of the Riesling grape.

The grape was – and is – an aromatic white variety that can produce wines ranging in styles. For example, some of the German Rieslings you might be familiar with are on the sweeter side while many Australian Rieslings tend to be dry. 

Riesling wine description

Many wine drinkers have the same reaction whenever you offer up a glass of Riesling, “Oh, no thanks. I don’t like sweet wine.” Much like rosé, Riesling has gotten a bad rap over the years because of an overindulgence in the super sweet German Riesling in the 1970’s and 80’s. But, not all Riesling is sweet. 

Rieslings from Germany – specifically the Rheingau, Pflaz, and Mosel regions – are noted for their off-dry style. They have high acidity, intense aromatics, and minerality. In German Rieslings you’ll taste apricot, meyer lemon, beeswax, and undertones of petroleum which develops during the fermentation and aging process. 

Rieslings from the Alsace region of France have slightly different tasting notes than the wines coming from neighboring Germany. Instead of apricot, lemon, and petrol, you’ll pick up on green apple, lime, and smoke. Then, moving over to Australia, Rieslings from the southern region have unmistakable diesel-like aromas with citrus flavors (lime peel, green apple) and tropical fruit notes (green papaya).

How to serve Riesling wine

Riesling is a white wine that’s best served chilled to 45-55°F (7-12°C). If you don’t have access to a temperature-controlled wine fridge, place your bottle on the door of your refrigerator and take it out a few minutes before serving. 

As for wine accessories, this tasty white is best served in a white wine glass and doesn’t require decanting or aeration. If you’re serving it over the course of an evening or dinner, consider keeping the bottle cool using a wine cooler.

Riesling food pairings

No matter where you look, we can almost guarantee you’ll find a recommendation to pair Riesling with spicy food – particularly Thai or Indian cuisines. This may seem like a confusing pairing but don’t knock it until you try it. For proteins, think duck, pork, and bacon. On the seafood side, think crab and shrimp. Here are some recipe recommendations from some friends of Coravin:

We’d love to see what you’re cooking up with Riesling! Tag us on social media, @coravin

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