When I think of German Rieslings, their floral, fruity aromatics, bright, crisp acidity, and notes of minerality come foremost to mind. Riesling is a delight for the senses but can be confusing when pairing with food because of the range of different styles from bone dry to very sweet. Once you understand how to determine the sweetness level in a German Riesling you can confidently know what style to buy for your future food pairings with German Riesling. Riesling has been the darling of the professional wine world for years. They know its high acidity and light to medium body make for a perfect food-friendly wine. In addition, Riesling is refreshing on the palate and loaded with those sensory aromatics.
This month the Wine Pairing Weekend group is taking a German Wine Exploration. Join our chat on Twitter Saturday, December 8th, 2018 at 11:00 am ET and check out more great articles on German wine at the bottom of this post.
How to Determine the Style of German Riesling by the Sweetness Level source
- Check the alcohol by volume (abv) expressed as a percentage on the label
8-9% abv – sweet
10% abv – some sweetness
11-12.5% abv – off-dry, some residual sugar
12.5 or higher abv – dry, no perceivable sweetness
2.Level of residual sugar ( unfermented grape sugars left over in the wine after fermentation is complete)
Bone Dry – <1g/L
Dry – 1-17g/L
Off-Dry – 17-35g/L
Medium-Sweet – 35-120g/L
Sweet – >120g/L
3. If the wine is labeled “Qualitätswein, the following terms indicate the level of sweetness
Trocken/Selection – dry wine with ~9g/L RS or less
Halbtrocken/Classic – half dry or slightly sweet wine with up to 12g/L RS (up to 15g/L RS for Classic)
Feinherb – an off-dry wine similar to halbtrocken
Liebliche – sweet wine with up to 45g/L RS
Süss – sweet wine with more than 45g/L RS
4. If a wine is labeled “Pradikatswein (traditionally sweet wines from the Mosel region), the following terms indicate the level of sweetness when picked
Kabinett – the sweetness of 148-188g/L sugar. The style is dry to off-dry.
Spätlese (late harvest) – the sweetness of 172-209g/L sugar. If labeled “trocken” probably a dry style with higher alcohol.
Auslese (select harvest) – the sweetness of 191-260g/L sugar. These wines are made from the noble rot grapes and are sweeter and higher alcohol when labeled trocken.
Beerenauslese (berry select harvest) – 260+g/L sugar. These are made from raisinated noble rot grapes and usually, are sold in the half bottle size.
Trockenbeerenauslese (dry berry select harvest)
Eiswein – Grapes that have frozen on the vines and are pressed frozen. 260+g/L sugar
General Guidelines for Food Pairings with German Rieslings
Bone Dry- Dry Styles – Pairs well with mild white fish, shellfish, mild poultry, and pork.
Off-Dry Styles – Are well matched with Indian & Asian cuisines with some spicy heat, sushi, curries, smoked meats, and fruit salsas or chutneys.
Sweet Styles – Are great with fruit desserts, crème brülée or other custard-like desserts. Cheese course with mild blue cheese.
My Tasting & Food Pairing Notes
Disclosure: The wines were provided to me as media samples by Wine Sellers. All opinions are my own.
Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling vom Kalk Kabinett Trocken, Rheinhessen 2015
13% abv | $17.00 SRP (sample) | 100% Riesling
Pale/medium straw in color. Medium- body. Nice fresh acidity with notes of lime and minerality.
Food Pairing: I paired this dry style Prädikatswein Kabinett with a Winter Pork & Fruit Ragout. The crisp acidity in the dry Riesling was perfect with the sweet and sour flavors, herbs, and spices in the ragout.
Dr. Nägler Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Steinkaut Trocken Qualitätswein, Rheingau 2014
12.6% abv | $19.00 SRP (sample) | 100% Riesling | RS 4.3g/L
Medium straw in color. Medium- body and medium acidity. A floral, honey-like nose. On the palate herbal notes, apricot, wet slate, and petroleum with a hint of sweetness.
Food Pairing: This wine was a great pairing with an Apple, Speck, Arugula Salad with aged Balsamic. The hints of sweetness echoed in the apple and balsamic vinegar with contrasting smoky flavors in the speck and spicy notes in the arugula. (recipe below)
This Riesling also paired well with Roasted Cauliflower & Onions with Curry. The hint of sweetness in the wine was a nice counterbalance to the slightly spicy curry.
Bollig-Lehnert Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2015
8.2% abv | $17.00 SRP (sample) | 100% Riesling | 58.0g/L RS
Pale straw in color. Medium- acidity and body. A floral nose of elderflowers with notes of golden delicious apple on the palate. Sweetness balanced with juicy acidity.
Food Pairing: I tried this with a dried cranberry and pistachio biscotti, but it fell flat. It was the perfect after dinner wine with a Fourme d’Ambert semi-hard blue cheese. The sweet and savory combination was simply heaven.
Apple, Speck, Arugula Salad with Aged Balsamic
- 2 apples Honeycrisp, cored and quartered and thinly sliced
- 4 oz. baby arugula, washed
- 12 thin slices speck
- 1/4 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- kosher sea salt
- Divide the arugula and arrange on 4 salad plates. Arrange the apple slices between the four plates. Drape three slices of speck per plate in a loose wavy fashion. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad. Season with kosher sea salt.
Explore more articles on German Wines from the Wine Pairing Weekend Group
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be tempting us with “Feasting for Sankt Nikolaus Tag: German Sips, Schweineschnitzel, Spätzle, and Sauerkraut”
- Kat from Bacchus Travel & Tours will share “A German Holiday Celebration #winePW”
- Sarah from Curious Cuisinière is pairing “Chicken Schnitzel and German Riesling”
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen will discuss “German Riesling: The Default Asian Food Pairing #winePW”
- Jade of TastingPour will tempt us with “Coq Au Riesling #winePW”
- Jeff from FoodWineClick discusses “50 Shades of Kabinett Riesling”
- Michelle of Rockin Red will share “German Wines: Expect The Unexpected #WinePW”
- Jill from L’Occasion will “Outfit Your Holiday Table With German Wines”
- Jane from Always Ravenous will share “Food Pairings with German Riesling #winepw”
- David of Cooking Chat has prepared “Chicken Sausage and Veggie Bowl with German Riesling”
- Gwendolyn from wine predator will enjoy “German Riesling and Fun Fondue With Friends for #WinePW”
- Cindy of Grape Experiences has you covered with “Your Party Planning Checklist: Must-Have German Rieslings”
- Rupal from Journeys of A Syrah Queen will share “Rieslings For The Holidays”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will be “Celebrating St. Nicholas Day”
- Jennifer of Vino Travels – An Italian Wine Blog will share “Everyday Pairings with German Riesling”
- Nancy at Pull That Cork will share “Two Styles of German Wine and a Meal for Both #winePW”