Serious Grape: Our Search for the Best Riesling


[Photograph: Schäfer-Reichart Selections]

You may have noticed a few bottles of riesling around these parts this summer. We started reviewing a bottle every weekday in July, exploring riesling from different continents, different countries, different regions, different villages, and different vineyards.

What did we discover? Our tastings reaffirmed that riesling is misunderstood, underappreciated, and undersold—this stuff is delicious, and too many people are missing out. These mineral-rich, low-alcohol wines are some of the most delicious whites we've ever tasted, especially in the $15 to $25 range. We tried about 45 bottles over the course of the past two months, paying attention to each wine and how it evolved in the glass. At a big panel tasting, the big wines knock out the little ones, the acid exhausts your palate, the alcohol does its numbing thing, and you can miss the subtle details. So we tasted one by one, filing reports that we hope will help you out when you're choosing bottles at your local wine shop. Want a cheat sheet? Here are a few of the highlights of our summer of riesling.

Our Favorites by Price and Location

Best Riesling Under $10
Urban Riesling 2010, around $10.

Best Riesling Under $15
Mönchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2010, around $14.

Best Riesling Under $20
Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett, "Jean Baptiste" 2010, around $17
Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling 'Gobelsburger' 2010, around $18
Stein Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken 2009, around $18
Johann Wilhelm Schild Ürziger Würtzgarten Spätlese 2007, around $18
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2009, around $19
Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2010, around $19


Steep-sloped vineyards at Wehlener Sonnenuhr [Photograph courtesy Rudi Wiest Selections]

More German Riesling Favorites
Klaus Meierer Kestener Paulinsberg Kabinett 2008, around $22
Von Hövel Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Spätlese 2009, around $24
Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese 2009, around $33

More Austrian Riesling Favorites
Bründlmayer Riesling 'Kamptaler Terrassen' 2009, around $20
Weingut Jäger Riesling Smaragd Ried Achleiten 2009, around $36

Noteworthy from Washington
Poet's Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley 2009, around $20

The Perfect Riesling For Your Food


[Photograph: Aya Tanaka]

When in doubt, pair riesling and raw fish—it's a no-brainer; sushi and sashimi benefits from the bright acidity and minerality/salinity of the wine, and the wine sparkles through the clean, rich flavors of the fish. But riesling is great with a wide variety of dishes. To name just a few options...

Drink This with Fried Chicken
Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten Riesling Kabinett, 2010, around $20
Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett 2010, around $18

Pair with Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Ravioli
Markus Molitor, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese 2008, around $21

Riesling for Thanksgiving
Mönchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2010, around $14
Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling 'Gobelsburger', 2010, around $18
Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese 2009, around $33

Riesling for Thai Food
Urban Riesling 2010, around $10

Riesling for Chinese Food
Weingut Immich-Batterieberg C.A.I. Riesling 2009, around $24

Serve with Smoked Salmon
Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2010, around $23

Riesling for Steamed Clams (or Clam Pizza)
Bründlmayer Riesling 'Kamptaler Terrassen', 2009, around $20

Riesling for the Cheese Plate
Schlossgut Diel Riesling Kabinett 2009, around $19
S.A. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2006, around $32

More Riesling!

No, we won't keep posting a riesling review every day, but our search for delicious riesling continues, because we're not the least bit tired of trying these exceptional wines. We'll keep adding to this site's riesling index as we taste more bottles. Got recommendations? Leave them in the comments below.