I'm not naming any names, but a friend of mine who loves red wine (we will call him “Fodd Tarmer”) was giving me a hard time about my love of Riesling. I couldn't understand why he didn't like Riesling when most of my friends are also Riesling fans. It turns out that he was under the impression that Rieslings are sweet wines, which isn't always the case. It also turns out that my sweet Riesling-loving friends probably would not like all Rieslings. Why not? And why do I think everyone should give Riesling a chance?
I started my relationship with Riesling on my honeymoon. (Be sure not to spell it “Reisling”) Up until then I had not tried much wine beyond a glass of blush every now and again at weddings. Our waiter on the cruise ship suggested to us a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. From then forward it became “our wine” and I figured that I must be a fan of Rieslings in general. Although I've broadened my horizons in the last 13 years, I still frequently go back to Rieslings when entertaining or picking general wines that will pair well with many foods.
What exactly is Riesling? Riesling is the name of the grape from which the Riesling wines are produced. That sounds obvious, but it isn't the case with all wines. Riesling is produced all over the world and is one of the top-ranking white wines. Last year Wine Enthusiast Magazine reported that in terms of sales “Riesling is the fastest-growing wine variety in the top 10, with increased sales in all price points.” It is generally not oaked but is sometimes sparkling.
The International Riesling Foundation is a great site for learning about the many differences in Rieslings. As they explain, some Rieslings are actually “bone dry” with no sweetness to them at all. If a producer includes the “Riesling Taste Profile” on the bottle, you will easily be able to tell on a scale of “Dry” to “Sweet” where a particular wine falls. Unfortunately, most wineries do not include that information on the packaging. When you are standing in the wine aisle of the grocery store, it can be almost impossible to tell whether a Riesling is dry or sweet. Because of that, you will want to do some research in advance.
Can you order an all Riesling Wine Club? I have not yet found one that I like but will keep looking. If someone likes sweeter Rieslings, they would probably enjoy the Cellars Sweet Club. If they like the drier Rieslings, they may like the Cellars Premium Club with the option of mixing one bottle of white and one bottle of red a month.
If you haven't given Riesling a try because you didn't know the full range of possibilities, I want you try to find one that fits your preferences and then come back and tell me what you think! (That includes you, Fodd)