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The great white grape, Riesling, is most often associated with Germany (though not exclusively). Historically, it has been grown for at least 500 years, though it’s speculated to have been cultivated for wine-making for over 2,000 years. The oldest records of this grape come from the Rhine and Mosel regions of Germany.
Producing aromatic white wines, Riesling is prized for its ability to convey much about the terroir of a region, while distinctly remaining Riesling. The defining characteristic of this wine is sweetness– though not all Rieslings must be sweet. Characteristic aromas include honey, floral, and mineral notes, depending on the vineyard from whence it came. The high acidity levels of the grapes give Rieslings their signature tart crispness. In youth, these wines may be described as “bright,” “vibrant,” or “sunny,” with flavors ranging from white stone fruits (notably peaches and nectarines) to apples and pears. In age, as the acidity drops off, aromas may take on petrol overtones and the apparent sweetness of the wine may increase, yielding notes of honey, apricots, and flowers on the palate.
Not all Rieslings are sweet, however; the first grapes to be harvested are labeled as Kabinett (the driest style of Riesling). Continuing in order of ripeness (and sweetness), there are Spätlese, Auslese, and the rare Beerenauslese style Rieslings (while not part of the official designation, there also exists Eiswein, where the grapes have remained on the vines for the longest amount of time, until they freeze).
Riesling thrives in a cool-climate environment and may be found worldwide, growing in regions such as the Finger Lakes in New York State, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Alsace, Austria, New Zealand, and Australia.
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