Grape Varieties Q-R Riesling

Riesling Wine

Riesling is a light-skinned, aromatic grape of German origin which is – if the majority of top wine critics are to be believed – the world's finest white wine grape variety.

For many, the claim above may seem at odds with the sea of chaptalized, low-quality wine exported from Germany in the late 20th Century. In truth, very little of that infamous wine was Riesling at all, but instead higher-yielding grapes such as Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner), but the reputation has nonetheless stuck. Riesling has also been stereotyped as just a sweet grape, used only to make sticky wines. But while botrytized Rieslings are among the finest sweet wines in the world, the majority of global Riesling wines are either dry or off-dry.

Riesling vines above the Mosel

The Riesling vine holds a very different place in the wine world to such great grapes as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay. While these immensely popular varieties have conquered every corner of the winegrowing world, Riesling is conspicuously absent from the core wine regions of France, Spain and Italy. Its fanbase is smaller, but fervent.

Riesling's spiritual home is unquestionably the regions that trace the middle Rhine and the lower Mosel, two of Europe's great wine rivers. Here we find the key wine regions of Germany, most famously Mosel, Rheinhessen, Rheingau and Pfalz. Riesling vines cover the steep, slate-rich hillsides above these famous rivers, and are used to make crisp, refreshing wines with pronounced acidity.

On the other side of the Rhine lies Alsace, once German but now part of France. Here, Riesling is the most important wine grape variety in terms of both quantity and (arguably) quality. Alsace Riesling has its individual style, richer and more generous than those made in Germany. This is made possible by the region's sunny, dry mesoclimate and the shelter provided by the Vosges Mountains.

Austria also produces a large quantity of Riesling, most notably from its eastern Wachau and Kremstal regions. This is made mostly in drier styles, although Lake Neusiedl, just southeast of Vienna, creates a sufficiently humid climate for the production of sweet botrytized Riesling.

Happily, Riesling has found several New World niches to which it is very well suited. The high quality Rieslings now made in Australia's Clare and Eden valleys have proved this with particular competence. Most notably, Clare Valley Riesling has emerged as a style in its own right, with crisp, citrus-scented acidity and aromas of toast and honeysuckle. Just across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is also making high-quality Riesling in Canterbury and Otago, while South Africa's Riesling is also showing promise. The famous ice wines of Canada are made mostly from Riesling or Vidal, and have further demonstrated the cold-resistant characteristics of this hard-wooded variety.

There are various clones and sub-varieties of Riesling in existence, and the variety has multiple variations on its name (e.g. Johannisberg Riesling, Rhine Riesling). To complicate matters, there are several white grape varieties that bear the name Riesling, but are entirely unrelated. The most notable of these are Welschriesling (Riesling Italico), Okanagan Riesling and Cape Riesling, which itself is also known as Crouchen, Paarl Riesling and Clare Riesling.

A rare, pink-skinned variant of Riesling – Roter Riesling – is grown in Germany and Austria. There is ongoing debate as to whether Roter Riesling is a mutated form of traditional Riesling, or vice-versa.

Synonyms include: Weisser Riesling, Johannisberg Riesling, Johannisberger, Rhine Riesling, Riesling Renano.

Food matches for Riesling include:

  • Quiche Lorraine; zwiebelkuchen onion cakes (dry)
  • Thai green curry (off-dry)
  • Key lime pie (sweet)

Enjoy this video of Ernie Loosen talking about Riesling in the Mosel...

Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Riesling Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Region
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
F E Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune, Alsace, France Clos Sainte Hune 479th 95 $251
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Mosel, Germany Wiltingen 686th 95 $15,459
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Wehlen 856th 93 $65
Schloss Johannisberg Grunlack Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau, Germany Johannisberg 875th 92 $52
Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany Rheinhessen 881st 95 $2,336
Best's Great Western Riesling, Great Western, Australia Great Western 883rd 91 $19
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany Wiltingen 892nd 91 $124
Weingut Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Dalsheim 966th 93 $272
Weingut Keller Westhofener Brunnenhauschen Abts Erde Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Westhofen 989th 94 $387
Sula Vineyards Riesling, Nashik, India Nashik 1,026th 88 $15
F E Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, Alsace, France Alsace 1,102nd 93 $66
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Wiltingen 1,172nd 94 $547
Weingut Keller Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Westhofen 1,230th 93 $277
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, Mosel, Germany Wehlen 1,290th 94 $119
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany Wiltingen 1,329th 94 $202
Loosen Bros Dr. L Riesling, Mosel, Germany Mosel 1,346th 88 $12
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany Wehlen 1,460th 93 $52
Weingut Wittmann Morstein Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Westhofen 1,542nd 93 $97
F.X. Pichler 'Unendlich' Riesling Smaragd, Wachau, Austria Wachau 1,596th 95 $232
Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, Germany Niederhausen 1,749th 93 $77
Inniskillin Riesling Icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Canada Niagara Peninsula 1,901st 91 $148
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia Clare Valley 1,915th 93 $45
Weingut Donnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, Germany Norheim 2,135th 92 $63
Georg Breuer Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling, Rheingau, Germany Rudesheim 2,157th 93 $225
Weingut Emmerich Knoll Ried Schutt Riesling Smaragd, Wachau, Austria Wachau 2,179th 93 $58
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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