Wine Lexicon


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Riesling - (REESE-ling)

The classic German grape of the Rhine and Mosel, certainly ranks with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir among the most noble wine grapes. Germany's great Rieslings are usually made slightly sweet, with strong, steely acidity for balance, a style of wine so variant from the French, Italian and U.S. tradition that it requires a real paradigm shift for many of us to enjoy; but objectively, the greatest German Rieslings stand comparison to the best the world has to offer. Alsatian Riesling is also excellent, though usually made in a different style, equally aromatic but typically stronger and usually dry or nearly so. California Rieslings, in my opinion, are much less successful, usually sweet without sufficient acidity for balance, although some compelling "Alsace-style" Rieslings have come from the Eastern U.S. Another wine so complex that it defies easy description, but I often find fresh apples, sometimes pleasantly resinous notes like pine, and occasionally an odd mineral quality that's half-jokingly described as "diesel" or "petrol" or even "bus exhaust," although it's not at all unpleasant.

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