Riesling is a grape with many names - Weisser Riesling, Rheinriesling, Riesling Renano, and Johannisberg Riesling. Riesling is the 'precusor' to White Zinfandel - the wine that "sweet tooth" drinkers sought out before White Zinfandel became available. The Riesling grape is believed to be indigenous to Germany, and has been planted there since the fourteenth century. Riesling does the best in Germany and in California, but is also grown in the Alsace region of France, in Austria, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Riesling is the most planted grape in the Rhine Valley in Germany, and people who talk about a "Rhine Wine" (that rhymes!!) are talking about a Riesling. Note that Riesling does NOT rhyme with Rhine NOR with Wine. The way you pronounce Riesling is Reeee-zling. It is NOT REYE-sling like eyeball. Just like Riedel glassware is Reeeee-dle, like needle, and not Reye-dell like Ridell High in Grease.

How do I know? I've talked to reps at Riedel, and they say that's the way the owners pronounce their name. They should know! Plus, in the German and Austrian languages, that is how the letters Rie are pronounced. If the Germans want an "Eye" sound, the spell it Rhi, like in the Rhine River and in Rhinegold. Rie = Reeeeeach for the moon. Rhi = REYEball that moon from afar.

Riesling and Rhine Wines were very popular in England in past centuries. In fact in Hamlet, the wine that the Danish court gets drunk with every night is a Rhine Wine!

Riesling is a late-ripening grape, and only has a moderate yield. This makes it difficult to grow, and often the price reflects this. A cheap Riesling might be sharp, but a well grown riesling will be a sweet but complex white wine that ages very well. Riesling is affected by where it is grown - Californian Rieslings tend to be dry and have a melony taste, while Germanic Rieslings are more tart and 'grapefruity'. Other typical Riesling flavors include fruity and floral, as well as honey and musky.

Riesling goes very well with oriental dishes. It also goes well with seafood of all types, and is one of the few wines that goes well with chocolate. It is also great on its own, as a dessert wine. In Ontario, Canada, Riesling is used in the creation of Ice Wines.

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