Riesling: The Chameleon Grape
Rieslings are fantastic wines that wear many hats. Often referred to as being a “chameleon grape”, Riesling grapes really do play many roles. In fact, the wines they produce range from those that are completely dry to wines that are insatiably sweet! While “Zinfandel” makes us think of California, “Riesling” instantly brings Germany to mind, though good Rieslings can be found elsewhere, too. Dry Rieslings, Rieslings packed with fresh citrus and peach flavors, Rieslings containing honey scents and fruity notes, and spectacular dessert Rieslings utilizing the same grapes are waiting for you at your local wine store!
To further demonstrate the delightful versatility of this grape, we compare two different Rieslings: the C.H. Berres Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1997 (produced in Germany), and the Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling 2009 (produced in America). Using Riedel Sommeliers Riesling Grand Cru Wine Glasses for optimal visual comparison, we find the appearance of both wines strikingly similar. Each has a crystal-clear, pale-to-golden yellow color, bordering on cream. This, however, is where the similarities end. Though the nose of each wine can be described as clean, fine, and sufficient, the Riesling Spatlese contains notes of violet, iris, honeysuckle, and a touch of berry, while the Almost Dry Riesling possesses a rich citrus fragrance of oranges and lemons, and also sports a soft peach aroma. While both wines are smooth and delicious to taste, the Riesling Spatlese is much more round; the Almost Dry Reisling is light-bodied and lean. The Riesling Spatlese is also quite sweet, while the Almost Dry Riesling (true to its name) is nearly void of any sugary taste. Although both wines are harmonious, elegant Rieslings, the Riesling Spatlese can be described as being more “velvety” when compared to the “sincere” nature of the Almost Dry Riesling. Though these two wines are delightfully similar in appearance, their distinct personalities are made apparent by comparison.
As in our previous Red and White Zinfandel blog post, it’s quite amazing how the same grape can yield two very good-but-different wines! But, no matter how sweet or dry, Rieslings are a perfect wine to enjoy on a hot, summer day! Why not conduct your own Riesling comparison this season?