Riesling originated in the Rheingau region of southwestern Germany. It has been cultivated in Germany at least since the Fifteenth Century. Riesling is the dominant grape variety in Germany. It is found throughout Central Europe, the Alsace region of northeastern France, California, Australia, and New Zealand.Petit Riesling image first published in Victor Rendu, Ampelographie francaise, comprenant la statistique, la description des meilleurs cepages, l'analyse chimique du sol et les procedes de culture et de vinification des principaux vignobles de la France. [2nd ed.]Paris: Masson, 1857.
Contrary to the popular misconception that Riesling wines are always sweet, Riesling varies from a dry, acidic wine, to a slightly sweet wine to a very sweet wine that can happen when grapes are affected by noble rot (botrytis) or frost. More than most other white varieties, the Riesling grape is very sensitive to its soil, climate, and growing conditions. Cool-climate Rieslings have a aromatic, delicate nose, while warm-climate Rieslings remind one of limes and other citrus fruits. The color varies from a very pale yellow with a slightly green and often brilliant tinge when young that evolve with age into a golden, honey-colored, possibly viscous wine. The taste varies from a crisp, acidic flavor when young to a rich, honey, spicy, toasty palate associated with the developed wine. Alsace Rieslings are acidic and taste of minerals and fruit. German Rieslings are sweeter and more aromatic, in particular the late vintage and Eiswein (made from grapes frozen on the vine) styles of the Rheingau, which are usually golden colored, syrupy and very sweet. They taste of lime or tropical fruit.
Enjoy dry or slightly sweet Rieslings with Edam, Gouda, or Monterey Jack Cheese, spicy Oriental food, Asparagus, raw Oysters, Pasta Salad or Pasta with Vegetables. Enjoy late-vintage or Eiswein Rieslings with desserts or Blue Cheese or Fruit Salad.
See My Own German Wine Articles for a clickable list of German Riesling wines.