Riesling

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All About Riesling

You could smell a bouquet of flowers, or you could take a big whiff of Riesling. This wine's strong floral aromas are thanks to a grape that's one of the most fragrant in the world. You'll immediately notice nectarine, apricot, apple and pear scents before you take a sip of this crisp wine.

Great Beginnings:

Breaking into the wine scene can be as challenging and daunting as scoring backstage passes to a Radiohead concert. The myriad colors, scents and ingredients can overwhelm even the most dedicated quaffer. Riesling, pronounced "reese-ling," is a perfect launching point for your voyage into Vinoland. Thanks to its aromatic and complex flavor, Riesling could also become the place where your journey ends.

A Glassful of Flowers:

The white grapes used to create Riesling originated in Germany. They bear a flowery, almost perfumed, aroma. The delightful fruity scent from a glass of Riesling can be detected well before you drink. While aging doesn't do most white wines any favors, Riesling (along with Chardonnay) is the rare exception. Thanks to its elevated acidity levels, high-quality Rieslings can be aged for over 100 years.

Home Is Wherever I'm With You:

Riesling is made all over the world. It's considered a "terroir-expressive" wine — the origin of your favorite Riesling highly influences its taste and character. Some of the many factors involved include aging, climate, and location. For example, even the soil qualities will have an impact on your bottle. The rate of drainage and heat retention will directly affect the vines, changing the aroma and ripening of the grapes.

You may be wondering if Riesling is a dry or a sweet wine. How about both? It's often assumed to be a very sweet wine, but you don't have to look hard to find a dry Riesling. It all depends on where the wine is from. Sweeter varieties are the calling cards of Californian and German Riesling, though they turn out a few dry options as well. France, Austria, the Finger Lakes of New York and Washington State typically turn out dry Riesling varieties. By doing your research beforehand, you can always find a Riesling to match your mood.

Beat the Heat:

When pairing Riesling with food, the key word is "spicy." Why do spicy foods and semi-sweet Riesling pair so well? Voodoo, probably. But when your mouth is on fire, black magic is just what you need. For some out-of-the-box pairings, try Indian and Thai food. If you're the type that insists on having Sriracha, chili paste, chili oil and hot mustard on hand at all times, equip yourself with some good Riesling. The sweetness of Riesling also pairs well with salty and savory foods, or better yet, a combination of the two.

Speaking of heat, be sure to lightly chill your Riesling before it's served. Sweeter Riesling should be served at the low end of the spectrum — about 45 degrees should be perfect. Drier and well-aged varieties typically deliver a more flavorful experience when they're a few degrees warmer, up to 50. These temperatures can be achieved by popping the bottle into the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Serious wine drinkers should consider one of those snooty-looking special wine refrigerators. If you doubt the importance