Definition - What does Riesling mean?

One of the noble white grape varieties, riesling is a white wine grape varietal with native origins in the Rhine wine region of Germany. It is one of the most familiar grapes of Germany, but it is also grown in Austria, France (Alsace), the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many other wine regions.

Riesling wine found in other parts of the world, such as Washington state, California and Australia, are often found as light-bodied, dry styles with more nuances of fruit than terroir, depending on how they are made.

WineFrog explains Riesling

Riesling wine is known as a great collector's wine for its longevity for aging for long periods thanks to it's balance at harvest of sufficient sugar and balance of acidity. Sweeter versions and late harvest wines age longer and sometimes longer than many collector's red wines. Riesling is a favored white wine variety for its versatility and ease of cultivation and for the balanced wines it can make with very little adulteration.

Dry Riesling wines of Germany and Austria are labeled as Kabinett wines, and more specifically as "Kabinett Troken" or "Kabinett Halbtroken"; the former "troken meaning "dry" and the latter, "halbtroken" meaning half dry. Sweeter versions of Riesling, known in Germany and Austria with their label designations of Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Icewein are late harvest wines made from grapes picked at various times later in the harvest season. The latter three are sometimes harvests which might only occur once or twice in a decade.

There are many styles of wines in which Riesling can be made, from light-bodied, dry wines to sweet and full-bodied. Riesling is known for its inherent ability to pick up nuances from where it has been cultivated which can be noted in the wine. In Germany, riesling is found growing in soils of slate and shale and often pick up the signature terroir notes of petrol and freshly laid asphalt. However, that is not to be found on the palate, as wherever Riesling is grown, it has pleasant notes of crisp apple, peaches, pear, white flower blossoms and citrus. The finish is that of a balanced and crisp wine with notable acidity.

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