What is Riesling?
Discover all you need to know about wine tasters' favourite grape variety, Riesling, what it tastes like and how to pair it with a selection of delicious meal ideas.
Thinking of trying out Riesling wine but not sure where to start? Read our expert guide on typical flavour profiles, tasting notes and fabulous foodie suggestions for pairing.
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What is Riesling wine?
Many wine lovers consider Riesling to be the greatest of all white grapes. With its electric crackle of acidity, it is certainly one of the world’s most distinctive. Riesling makes everything from bone-dry wines of great elegance to wines so sweet they are close to syrup, but always with that trademark charge of acidity. By the way, it’s pronounced ‘reece-ling’ not ‘rice-ling’.
Riesling is a cool climate grape. It’s native to Germany where its heartlands are in the Rhine and Moselle Valleys. Outside of Germany, Riesling is grown all over the world where it isn’t too hot. Alsace, cooler parts of Australia, Washington State, New Zealand and Austria all have sizeable plantings. It’s almost always seen on its own, though it does crop up in blends in Germany and Alsace. Most Rieslings can be enjoyed young, but that famous acidity means that it ages beautifully. The very best examples can last for decades.
What does Riesling wine taste like?
Riesling is very site dependent. In the Moselle Valley in Germany you will find notes of green apple and blossom; in the Rhine, richer stone fruit flavour; or head to Australia’s Clare Valley for vivid lime notes. As Riesling ages, it develops notes of honey, and in the mouth becomes fatter with nutty flavours developing with time. Young dry Rieslings respond to being served cold but not ice-cold. Take out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving.
What dishes go well with Riesling wine?
Riesling is a great all-rounder. That acidity makes it great for cutting through fatty dishes. Off-dry Rieslings, for example, are excellent with roast pork. Our roast pork with crackling is a perfect choice, as it’s fatty yet also has that beautiful crunch from the crackling. Check out our other delicious roast pork recipes if you prefer something softer, such as our slow-roast pork shoulder.
Meanwhile, zingy Australian and Rhine wines love the spice in Thai food. Our Thai pork & peanut curry is fragrant with a kick. Check out our Thai recipes for more sweet and sour Thai curries, noodles and rice dishes. Sweeter examples go well with fruit tarts and blue cheeses, so try it with our root vegetable tatin with candied nuts & blue cheese or a pear, walnut & blue cheese tart.