The Guide to Riesling Wines: Taste, Characteristics & Food Pairing Ideas

The Riesling grape is one of the hardest grapes to grow, only grown in Germany, France, United States, Austria, Australia and New Zealand. But this is not why Riesling wines are the most sought-after wines by connoisseurs and collectors alike. No other white grape can produce a range of aromas and flavours like the Riesling grape and this is what makes it popular and in demand. If you want to know all the different flavours and aromas Riesling wine has and how and what food to pair it with, keep reading.

The unique taste and aromas of Riesling wine are really quite diverse. Some of the first most noticeable tastes that one might detect are fruit, berry and citrus flavours. An in-depth look into these flavours include apricot, nectarine, peach, pear, pineapple, apple and lime. Other aromas present in Riesling wines are herb, spice, flower, mineral and earth based. A more in-depth look into the aromas of Riesling include honey, honeycomb, beeswax, petrol, ginger, citrus blossom and strangely enough, fuel. As Riesling tends to age, it seems to develop a stronger petrol or fuel taste. The acidity in Riesling is quite high and is best served chilled from the refrigerator.

Riesling Grapes

When it comes to food pairing, it seems Riesling goes exceedingly well with any spicy Indian or Asian cuisine, the balance of sweetness and acidity really is the perfect match. If you’re planning to have a dinner party, or simply want to cook for one and don’t know what that bottle of Riesling in the fridge will go with, here are some ingredients you can base your meal off.

The best meats to pair Riesling with are shrimp, crab, chicken, bacon, pork and duck; pretty much every meat. Highly aromatic spices and herbs pair well with Riesling, for example cayenne pepper, ginger, clove, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, madras curry, shallots, soy sauce, basil, and rice vinegar. Vegetables with a natural sweetness such as red onion, bell pepper, squash, carrot and eggplant perfectly enhance the flavour of this white wine. If you’re planning to use the Riesling for a cheese platter, stick to less smelly cheeses and pair with some dried fruit.

Below are a few of my favourite recipes that you can incorporate Riesling wines in.

Grilled Peaches in Wine

This is perfect after dinner sweet treat. Simply take some yellow peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and place them facing down on a grill. Once grill marks show up remove them from the heat and allow them to cool down. Slice into quarters and add to your favourite Riesling wine. The peaches will bring out the natural peach flavours in the Riesling and make it more sugary and sweet.


Pan Sauce for Roast Duck

After preparing roast duck take the pan with the leftover fat and duck and place on a burner, cook until they turn a deep brown. Add 1 cup of your favourite Riesling and boil until reduced by half. Carefully pour the contents from the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan and add any juices from the resting duck. Remove the pan from the heat and add one tablespoon of cold butter and mix to thicken the sauce, season with salt and pepper or any herbs to taste.

Riesling is usually produced in smaller quantities as it doesn’t grow everywhere and it can’t be mechanically handled. Many often think that Riesling only comes in sweet varieties, but it can also be dry. Although finding a good quality dry Riesling might be harder to come by, it is available for those who are not fans of dessert wines. There is a great selection available online for those of you who can’t find a decent bottle locally. The acidity, dryness, sweetness and complex flavour make Riesling wines one of the most unique and sought-after wines in the world.