Riesling: More Than Your Grandma’s Sweet Wine


The white wine dates back to the 15th century and goes with just about everything.

With the many intricacies that Riesling has to offer, calling it merely a summer wine is almost a slap in the face. But with recent consumer awareness and the backing of the sommelier community, it is a wine you cannot neglect on this summer’s selections.

“It goes with everything” was the marketing campaign that Blue Nun used to storm the U.S. markets in the mid-1980s, selling 1.5 million cases in its peak year. They got one thing right: Riesling is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food. But they also tainted the consumer opinion of the grape.

Many consumers today associate Riesling with the mass-produced, semisweet Liebfraumilch, a blend of primarily high-yielding grapes such as Sylvaner and Müller-Thurgau. Exported German wines have come a long way since “grandma’s sweet wine” Blue Nun, and Riesling is finally starting to get some credit.

Riesling dates back to the 15th century in Rheingau and is nearly every sommelier’s desert island wine.

“I always get a raised eyebrow when I tell people my favorite grape varietal is Riesling,” says Alpana Singh, master sommelier and director of wine and spirits for Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago.  “People usually think it is a cheap wine. The average consumer has been trained to stay away from sweet wines, thinking they aren’t sophisticated.”

Eddie Osterland, America’s first master sommelier, attributes a 1966 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling feinste Auslese to his career choice in wine, coining it as his light bulb wine.

“It grabbed me by my senses and said slow down,” Osterland says.

There are two kinds of Riesling drinkers: the white Zinfandel sweet wine lovers and the true wine geeks. The dichotomy between consumer and professional opinions leaves Riesling as one of the best-kept secrets in the wine industry.



] tainted the consumer opinion of the grape."I came here by way of your Facebook link with the headline above. Wanted to see what you have to say with such a misleading headline. I must say, that alone taints the consumer opinion of the grape.  


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