|When you say the word "Riesling" to most people they think cap, sweet wine. But that is really doing Riesling a disservice. This grape is really the chameleon of the wine world. Wine makers can ferment all of the sugar out fo the juice, resulting in a very dry style. Or, depending on how ripe the grapes get, make everything from off dry to super sweet. Below we have recipes chosen specifically for this grape and more information regarding the wine's history.
Quick Riesling Facts:
85% of the wines produced in Germany are white. Germany does produce some red wines, but it is very difficult to get the red grapes to ripen in such a northerly climate.
France produces ten times as much wine as Germany. On the average, French wines are 11 - 13% alcohol. Whereas German wines are 8 - 10% alcohol.
German Riesling labels divide the wine into two broad quality categories: QbA and QmP.
QbA: qualitatswein bestimmer anbaugebiete or quality wine from one of the thirteen specified wine producing regions. This is basic table wine.
QmP: qualitatswein mit pradikat or quality wine with distinction. The better wines achieve this level..
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|Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings.||Riesling is often overlooked and for that reason, there are some great bargains out there. Our choice for this meal is the dry Alsatian style. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.|
|Humans seem to have the need to establish the relative values of different groups of items. Some stones are called precious, a great work of art is deemed a masterpiece; even chickens have a pecking order. Likewise, there are ordinary grapes that make ordinary wine, but a select few noble grapes are called upon again and again to make the world's great wines. Over the centuries most of these grapes have found a home, a certain region where they thrive. A while back we tasted wine made from the Sangiovese of Tuscany, and a little later, the Pinot Noir of Burgundy. Now we turn to Germany's gift to the wine world, Riesling. The grape has been used to produce notable wines since the Middle Ages. In fact, it is said that Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, chose the sites for the earliest vineyards himself. By 1135 the Dukes of Burgundy had recognized the potential of the Riesling grape and left it to the Cistercian Monks to perfect its vinification. Because they believed that high quality wine was a religious duty, the Cistercians influenced local farmers to follow their lead. In a repeat of their success with Pinot Noir they helped to elevate Riesling to the upper tier of European wines. A thriving German river trade caused the price for this white wine to sharply rise which contributed in no small part to the growing prosperity of the country. And although Germany is the undisputed King of Riesling, there is one other rival to the crown - the Alsace region of France. This small territory, with cities named Wissembourg and Frankstein, was once a German possession but produces a very distinctive style of the wine.|
|France and Italy have adopted systems which legally control where certain grapes are planted and how the resulting wines are named. Although confusing to most Americans, due to the fact that the name of the grape is conspicuously absent from a bottle of Bordeaux or Chianti, these classifications are based on centuries of vinification trial and error. Germany, on the other hand, has developed a completely different classification system based on the level of ripeness achieved in the grape. A riper grape has more natural sugar and produces a smoother, sweeter wine, and in Germany's vineyards, the most northerly in all of Europe, ripeness is certainly an issue.|
|The two broad ripeness categories are expressed on the label by the letters QbA (tablewine) and QmP (the good stuff). The QmP wines are subdivided further into six categories based on quality, price, and ripeness at harvest. (We will only discuss the first three levels here as the final three are very sweet and very expensive.) 1. Kabinett - the wine inside is light and dry, made from ripe grapes. These are basic wines generally without a lot of uniqueness. 2. Spätlese - specifically this means "late picking". If the wine makers are lucky they may be blessed with a few extra days of sun after the normal harvest. These additional days of ripening create a smoother, richer texture and a more intense flavor, but leaving the grapes on the vine is a gamble in the unpredictable German climate. A sudden cold snap could ruin a harvest and wipe out the year's profits. 3. Auslese - this third quality level means "out picked". This very time consuming method requires the hand-picking of the ripest individual grapes from a bunch leaving the remainder hanging to ripen more fully. The style of this wine is fuller still, with a sweet taste and an expensive price tag.|