Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. Riesling is a variety which is highly "terroir-expressive", meaning that the character of Riesling wines is greatly influenced by the wine's place of origin.
In cool climates (such as many German wine regions), Riesling wines tend to exhibit apple and tree fruit notes with noticeable levels of acidity that are sometimes balanced with residual sugar. A late-ripening variety that can develop more citrus and peach notes is grown in warmer climates (such as Alsace and parts of Austria). In Australia, Riesling is often noted for a characteristic lime note that tends to emerge in examples from the Clare Valley and Eden Valley in South Australia. Riesling's naturally high acidity and pronounced fruit flavors give wines made from the grape exceptional aging potential, with well-made examples from favorable vintages often developing smokey, honey notes, and aged German Rieslings, in particular, taking on a "petrol" character.
The most expensive wines made from Riesling are late harvest dessert wines, produced by letting the grapes hang on the vines well past normal picking time. Through evaporation caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea("noble rot") or by freezing, as in the case of ice wine(in German, Eiswein), water is removed and the resulting wine is felt to offer richer layers on the palate. These concentrated wines have more sugar (in extreme cases hundreds of grams per litre), more acid (to give balance to the sugar), more flavour, and more complexity. These elements combine to make wines which are amongst the most long lived of all white Wines
Riesling is a versatile wine for pairing with food, because of its balance of sugar and acidity. It can be paired with white fish or pork, and is one of the few wines that can stand up to the stronger flavours and spices of Thai and Chinese cuisine.A Riesling's typical aromas are of flowers, tropical fruits, and mineral stone (such as slate or quartz), although, with time, the wine acquires a petrol note as mentioned above.
Riesling is almost never fermented or aged in new oak (although large old oak barrels are often used to store and stabilize Riesling-based wines in Germany and Alsace) This means that Riesling tends to be lighter weight and therefore suitable to a wider range of foods. The sharp acidity/sweetness in Rieslings can serve as a good balance to foods that have a high salt content. In Germany cabbage is sometimes cooked with riesling to reduce the vegetable's smell.
As with other white wines, dry Riesling is generally served at a cool 11 °C (52 °F). Sweeter Rieslings are often served warmer.