Did you know that New York’s Finger Lakes region is the oldest producer of Riesling wines in America? New York’s Riesling origins pre-dates California's, whose first plantings of this aromatic grape variety took place in 1857. It wasn't until 1960 though that NY would see success with the Riesling varietal. Through the efforts of Dr. Frank and Charles Fournier NY's Finger Lake region would see the Gold Seal Winery release the first wine produced from Vinifera grapes ¹ !
But New York holds no patents on this “sometimes effervescent, light-bodied, mellow-flavored” wine. In actual fact, Riesling (pronounced “REEZLING”) is Teutonic in origin, tracing its roots, as it were, to Germany’s bountiful Rhine region.
Easy to remember Riesling wine comes from Rhine ;)
The Riesling grape variety, a member of the Vitis Vinifera family, is remarkably versatile. It’s used to produce everything from dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling wines. New York is particularly noteworthy for its Riesling-based Ice Wines (not at all inexpensive but great with dessert)!
Riesling Only Recently Popular
For as long as it’s been around however, wines produced from this grape are only beginning to become well-known. Even though Riesling ranks among the most popular white wine varieties in America next to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, its distinction as a “top three” wine is comparatively recent.Riesling is most often a late harvest wine (traditionally, the later the harvest, the sweeter the wine), and is what is known as "terroir-expressive," which a fancy way of saying its character and taste are “highly influenced by its place of origin”². It has a tradition of rarely – or never – having been fermented or stored in oak barrels because of the influence of oak on the taste of the wine. Some wines are considered well-complimented by having an “oaky” flavor to them – Riesling is not one of them.
Serving Riesling Wine
When serving, dryer Rieslings are best when they’re cool (about 20 degrees under room temperature), while sweeter varieties are often served slightly warmer. Riesling is well-noted for its balance of sugar and acidity, boasting an aroma of flowers, tropical fruits, and minerals, and because of this Rieslings are easily paired with a variety of foods, notably fish, pork, spicier, aromatic foods and foods with higher salt content.
Whatever your preference, sweet or dry, WeSpeakWine.com boasts a hearty line of Riesling wines, many of them from right here in New York!
If you find your perfect Riesling don't forget to tell us what you think by rating your wines!
Photo "Riesling grapes and leaves" © 2005 by Tom Maack, Rheingau, Germany, October 2005 Under CC license
¹ "Early History of Finger Lakes Wines" by winesny.com
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