Are All Rieslings Sweet?

Posted October 3, 2016 in

Riesling taste profile dry or sweetAre all Rieslings sweet? As they would say in Germany, “Nein!”  From the Alsace growing region in France, you would be told “Mais, non,” and from the folks down under, “Krikey!”

And as we would say at CGT, “No, not at all!”

Our “fan favorite” wine at Chateau Grand Traverse may be the sweeter style Late Harvest Riesling, but there is a constantly growing demand for dry and semi-dry style Rieslings. At Chateau Grand Traverse, we have been making Rieslings in a range of sweetness styles for over 40 years, with our dryer styles winning just as many awards as our most popular sweets.

What’s the difference between dry and sweet Riesling?

The main differences to the wine drinker will be:

  • sweetness, of course
  • finish
  • character / body
  • fruit flavor

Dry Rieslings will have more mineral flavors with complex fruit layers, delivering notes typical of Riesling such as apple, pear, lemon, pineapple and cantaloupe. The finish will often be steely-dry. Clean and crisp: our 2015 Dry Riesling is a classic example.

Rieslings that are sweeter are still crisp and refreshing, but balanced with a lasting sweetness. Sweet Rieslings are a bit less complex and more fruit-forward, often with powerful flavors of tropical fruit and a sweet honey finish. In the case of the 2014 Late Harvest Riesling: orange-blossom honey.

How are sweet and dry Rieslings the same?

Across the spectrum of sweetness, the high acidity in the Riesling grape gives us a wine that’s always clean and refreshing and deliciously complex and crisp.

Whether dry or sweet, all Rieslings have these things in common:

  • great with a wide range of cheese and food, including spicy food
  • usually a lower alcohol than other varietals
  • famous for their fruit aroma
  • refreshing and enjoyable
  • best served chilled at 45 – 50 degrees (45 is absolutely perfect for sweet Rieslings, 50 is best for dry ones)

Here in northern Michigan, the rolling hills and temperate lakeside climate make a natural second home to this wine grape from Germany and the Alsace region of France.

If you like Riesling – whether dry, sweet or both – join the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula on February 18, 2017 for Romancing the Riesling event. This annual event celebrates everything Riesling with past and present vintages, food pairings, and insider info on our favorite varietal. Tickets for the all-day love affair go on sale 60 days in advance and are also available the day of the event.

And if you’re still not quite sure what style Riesling you like best, we can definitely help you decide! Visit our tasting room to try our “Riesling for Being” flight, which includes Rieslings across the spectrum of sweetness. You’ll see for yourself that, no, not all Rieslings are sweet. You might even be surprised about which one is your new favorite!

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