Tag Archives: sweet wine

Riesling: The Oktoberfest Friendly Wine

10728992_10152361362576975_1048692775_nOktoberfest is in full swing and it’s not just about the beer. Riesling is delicious with that bratwurst as well! It’s a wine I like to have year round as it goes well with just about anything from salads to spicy food. Even on its own it’s delicious with its citrus, apricot and honey notes complimented by high acidity. Here’s a short guide to this amazing varietal!

Riesling is the dominant wine grape of Germany and its greatest achievement to the world of wine. It is known for the sweeter style that this varietal produces. There are various levels of sweetness so if you’re in the store and you’re a little lost, here’s a chart to help:

GermanRieslingTable

Kabinett is made from grapes that are picked at normal harvest and can be produced in a dry style, though typically you will see these in an off dry or semi-sweet style.

Spatlese is the term that the Germans use to indicate that the berries were picked at late harvest.  The grapes picked for Spatlese style Rieslings are picked two weeks after Kabinett wines are harvested.  Waiting to harvest makes the favors of the wine become more concentrated.  This also means that the grapes will have more body and alcohol.  Probably the best food wine in the world.

Auslese wines are from very ripe grapes.  These ripe bunches are selected by hand.  Overripe bunches used to make this style wine will contain botrytis infected grapes that are individually selected and used to make Beerenauslese style wine.

Beerenauslese (BA) are made from Auslese bunches though the grapes selected are overripe and botrytis infected (noble rot).  This is a very rare style of wine and has incredible aging potential.

Eiswein is made with grapes that are the same ripeness level as Beerenauslese.  However, Eiswein grapes are partially frozen and do not contain noble rot.

Tip: Pour a little Eiswein on your vanilla ice cream.  It’s AWESOME!

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) are Beernauslese grapes that are allowed to stay on the vine to dry.  These wines have the highest sugar concentration and produce some of the sweetest wines on the planet. The berries are not picked until they have dried out to the point of almost being raisins.

Terms:

Noble Rot is a fungus (Botrytis) that grows on grapes in moist conditions. It sounds disgusting but it’s makes for some awesome wine! When grapes are picked at the right time during the infestation it creates sweet, concentrated and delicious wine. In the case of Riesling, noble rot is GOOD.

Trocken refers to the grapes being dried on the vine making the wine even more concentrated.

Best German Riesling:

Some of the best vineyards for Riesling in Germany are along the Mosel River. The vineyards here are on steep slopes and some of the best Riesling vineyards grow on slaty ground in the middle Mosel. This slaty ground gives classic German Riesling its mineral character. So when you think of a Riesling from Mosel, keep in mind that someone had to climb those steep slopes in order to hand harvest all of those grapes! Additionally, styles of wine made with botrytis infected grapes have to be hand sorted to only include the grapes that are affected. The remaining unaffected grapes will be used to make the other sweet styles. 

A few other outstanding places to buy Riesling from Germany are Pflaz, where rich Rieslings are produced, Rheingau, which produces some of the best Rieslings in Germany, and Nahe that is home to what many believe is the greatest winemaker in Germany (Dönnhoff).

Culture + Wine:

Wine was brought to Germany by the Romans, additionally a Roman garrison was situated along the Mosel River and there is even archeological evidence of German pruning knives found around these garrisons.   Dacimus Magnus Ausonius a Roman poet, and tutor to future emperor Gratian was best known for his longest poem, Mosella, which describes the Mosel River and the sloping vineyards.

Now go get that glass of German Riesling! Cheers!