Wine Culture Magazine

Riesling vineyard in Germany’s Mosel Valley. iStock / Getty Images Plus / Bjoern Wylezich photo

Is that tropical fruit we detect? A hint of apricot? An appealing whiff of petrol? Then it must be Riesling in your glass. Today — March 13— is International Riesling Day, so let’s celebrate one of the world’s most versatile, food-friendly wines.

Whatever you think Riesling is, it is so much more than that. It can be lusciously sweet or it can be bright and bracingly crisp. It can age beautifully, but it is also lovely when it’s fresh and new. And it thrives in diverse terroirs all over the planet, from Germany’s iconic Mosel to Alsace in France, from Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys to right here in B.C., from the sultry Similkameen to cool climate Lake Country.

Riesling evolved from a wild, frost-resistant vine that thrived along the Rhône River and, over many centuries, crossed with Traminer and Weiser Hoinish to produce the aromatic, disease resistant and high-acid grape we know today.

In the 18th century, Riesling emerged from obscurity and German Riesling especially became such a highly esteemed wine that it graced the tables of monarchs and, in 1904, won the prestigious Grand Prix at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Mosel Rieslings especially are known for their light, floral character, mineral elegance and surprising aging potential.

Riesling loves cool climates; indeed, more than 70 per cent of Riesling is grown between the 48th and 51st parallels in the northern hemisphere. But wherever Riesling is grown, it is particularly expressive of its terroir, making it a favourite among wine nerds. But you don’t have to be an expert to recognize just how food-friendly Riesling can be.

Dry Riesling is beloved for its bright acidity and balanced sweetness, which makes it a particularly good partner for rich, complex and spicy food, including many Asian and South Asian dishes. Semi-sweet and sweet Riesling varieties are perfect dessert wines and, in the right circumstances, Riesling makes a terrific ice wine. Aged Riesling, though, is best enjoyed—or rather, revered—on its own.

So this International Riesling Day, order some Thai or Indian takeout, pour a glass of Riesling and raise a glass in toast to one of the world’s most exciting wines. And don’t forget to post your Riesling adventures on social media using the hashtags: #Riesling, #RieslingDay or #RieslingLove.

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