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Riesling [REES-ling], aka Johannesburg Riesling and White Riesling, is a white wine, originally from Germany, made in a range of styles from dry to very sweet. In general Rieslings are fruity, with apple, peach, pear and floral aromas. Rieslings are broadly described as Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese. Although there are exceptions, these terms imply progressively sweeter wine. Kabinett wines are picked during the normal harvest time, are medium-bodied, well-balanced and dry to semi-dry. Meaning late harvest, Spätlese is picked about two weeks after Kabinett, when the grapes are fully ripened. Spätlese is semi-dry to semi-sweet. Auslese, or select harvest wine, is made from very ripe grapes from hand-selected bunches. Auslese is sweet. Beerenauslese (abbreviated BA and meaning berry select harvest) and Trockenbeerenauslese (abbreviated TBA and meaning dried berry select harvest) are similar to Sauternes and the result of botrytis cinerea, euphemistically known as noble rot. BA and TBA wines have an overwhelming intensity and complexity of flavor and are extremely sweet, dessert-style wines.
Rieslings are very versatile with food. The dryer (Kabinett and Spätlese) styles are superb with sautéed, broiled or grilled seafood, pork, poultry, veal and many Asian dishes. The sweeter (Auslese, BA, TBA) styles can be considered desserts in themselves, but also compliment moderately sweet deserts that contain tart fruits. Here are examples of a dry and sweet style Riesling from the Rheingau region of Germany. Look for American versions of these wines from Washington state.
Schloss Vollrads Qualitätswein Riesling from Rheingau Germany
White Varietal – Riesling
Notes: Pure and tangy with a small amount of sweetness to balance the bright acidity; tangy, fresh and racy with stunning fruit flavors and a long, focused finish; vibrant and gorgeous.
A Drier White – Cost:$$ out of $$$$$
Schloss Vollrads Spätlese Riesling from Rheingau Germany
White Varietal – Riesling
Notes: This Riesling is a classic Spätlese without botrytis, very clear and fruity. Sweetness and acidity are perfectly balanced, so that the wine is centred and the taste lingers. Sun and the fruitiness of the grape join together in a dance on the tongue. The Schloss Vollrads Spätlese has a long aging potential.
A Sweet White – Cost:$$$ out of $$$$$

Local oenophile David Dickson has been a wine educator for nearly 30 years. He welcomes questions and suggestions for this column at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit his website at winetimenewsletter.com to learn more about enjoying wine.