Everything You Need To Know About Riesling

India's First & Only Master of Wine.


If there’s one word that you could use to describe Chenin Blanc, it has to be versatile. This grape variety can grow in any sort of climate, and based on it, shows a spectrum of different aromas and flavours. It can produce diverse styles of wine- ranging from an absolute bone dry to unctuously sweet, and everything in between.


This aromatic grape variety produces wines with pronounced fruity and floral fragrances and high acidity. The fruit flavours in the wine vary according to the level of ripeness at the time of harvest. Grapes from cooler climates are usually just-ripe and produce wines with flavours of green apple, pear and citrus. In a warmer climate, the grapes are over-ripe, giving flavours of peach and apricot, along with tropical flavours of mango and pineapple, or even dried raisins and honey.

Structurally, Riesling has very high acidity, along with light to medium body and low to medium levels of alcohol, depending on the climate where it comes from. This grape variety has no affinity to oak. The whole beauty of Riesling is in showing off its wonderful floral and fruity aromas and freshness, all of which can be easily masked by the use of oak.


Riesling produces dry, off-dry, medium and sweet white wines. Off-dry or medium styles of wines are made by interrupting the fermentation process by removing the yeast, thus leaving the wine with residual sugar and low alcohol. Another way is by adding some sterile and unfermented grape juice, also called Süssreserve, to the wine.

Sweet-style wines are made using over-ripe grapes which contain such high levels of sugar that the fermentation process stops naturally. The finest Rieslings can age for years or even decades in a bottle. High acidity preserves the freshness of the wine while it develops complex tertiary flavours of honey and petrol while ageing.

Fun Wine Fact: Semillon, often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, is a white grape with a hidden talent. While it may not hog the spotlight, it plays a crucial role in creating some of the world's finest dessert wines, lending its unique character to Sauternes and other lusciously sweet concoctions.

German Riesling

Germany lays claim to producing the best Riesling in the world, ranging in style from dry to sweet. Following are some Riesling growing regions of Germany:

Mosel: This region produces lighter-bodied Riesling with a medium sweetness that perfectly balances its high acidity. The premium vineyards here are located on the South or South-East facing slopes on the bank of the Mosel River, where stony soils and ample sunlight help the grapes to ripen.

Rheingau: This region has steep vineyards on the South-facing slopes along the banks of the Rhine River. The wines this region produces are drier in style.

Pfaz – Pfalz lies closer to Germany’s border with France. The wine from this region is dry and medium-bodied.

Here are some common terms that you’ll see on German Riesling bottles that refer to the sweetness of the wine:

Trocken – Dry wine

Halbtrocken/ Feinherb: The two words mean the same thing- off dry or medium. Some producers believed that the word "halbtrocken" has a negative connotation, being associated with lower quality wine, and hence they started using the "feinherb" instead.

Kabinett – Wine that is light in body with green fruit flavours such as apple, citrus and floral aromas.

Spätlese: These late-harvest Rieslings, both dry and sweet, have more concentrated flavours and a fuller body with riper citrus and stone fruit flavours such as peach.

Auslese: Wines made from carefully selected extra-ripe bunches of grapes. Such a wine will usually display flavours of stone fruits and tropical fruits. Though Auslese can be made in Trocken (dry) style, most of them have some sweetness.

It is worth noting here that Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese can range from dry to medium sweet/ sweet. The sugar levels in the grape progressively increases, but not necessarily the final wine. Also, while it is very likely that an Auslese will be sweeter than a Spatlese, it is not always true.

Beerenauslese (BA): Wine made from select bunches of grapes that have been concentrated by Botrytis. These wines have fresh stone fruit (apricot) and tropical fruit (mango) and sometimes dried fruit and honey flavours and are very sweet in taste.

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): These wines are made from individually selected sweet grapes that have been literally shrivelled into raisins due to Botrytis. These are rare and concentrated wines with intense BA flavours and are very sweet wines.

Alsace, France

Alsace AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) lies to the east of the Vosges mountains and is one of the driest and sunniest wine-producing regions of France. Long periods of uninterrupted sunshine and an extended growing season allow the grapes to ripen slowly and gradually here.

A typical Alsace Riesling is dry with pronounced aromas and flavour intensity. The wines have ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours with medium body and high acidity. They have the ability to age in the bottle, developing dried fruit and honey aromas.


High-quality Riesling is produced in South Australia’s Eden Valley and Clare Valley. Due to their high altitude, these two regions have moderate climates. They produce a refreshing dry style with pronounced aromas of lime, peach and petrol.


Serving Temperature – 7 to 12 degrees Celsius

Glassware - Standard white wine glass

Food Pairing

Because of some Riesling’s sweetness and acidity, it is the perfect accompaniment to spicy food. Bold Indian and Asian spices are a great match for Riesling. Here’s a tip: pair lighter, crisper Rieslings with foods that have delicate flavours, like sashimi or sushi. For more substantial Rieslings go with Asian preparations, meats like duck, chicken and pork or foods with aromatic herbs.

Are you interested in learning more about different wine grape varieties? Start your wine journey today with the Sonal Holland Wine Academy. Access world-class knowledge straight from India’s most qualified wine expert to gain confidence and an unbeatable edge in your career.

Click here: To Know More About Our Courses.

Originally published 12th September, 2023


Ready to swirl, sip, and savor? Join the grape adventure at Sonal Holland Wine Academy. 

Don't wait – it's time to uncork your passion!