Pacific Rim
April 15, 2022 | wine | Pacific Rim

Riesling Royalty: Washington State Riesling White Wine

Riesling is one of the great white wines, but for some unknown reason, some people think it is only available as a sweet beverage. Granted, when Riesling was first produced in America, it was sweet, but today the majority of Riesling produced in Washington State is both dry and sweet. And, more importantly, Riesling is one of the most popular Washington State white wines. While Riesling is produced in several states in the U.S., including the Finger Lakes (NY), Oregon, and California, the quality of the Washington State Riesling white wine is outstanding. 

Here are a few facts about Washington State Riesling white wine:

Not all Rieslings are sweet. The Riesling produced in Washington State varies from sweet, to dry, to bone dry, and a little bit of everything in between. The only way to tell what type of Riesling you are buying is to read the label and determine the amount of residual sugar. If the residual sugar is less than 10g/l, the Riesling will be dry, but if the residual sugar is more than 30g/l, it will taste sweet. If the label does not reveal the residual sugar, check the label to see if it says dry, medium-dry, or sweet.

Washington State white wines pair great with many foods. The one key feature about Riesling is that it is versatile. The sweet Riesling goes great with spicy curries and Asian foods, while the medium-dry Riesling can be paired with veggies, meat dishes, pasta, chicken, pizza, beef, cheese, and many desserts.

Riesling History

Up until the middle of the 20th century, Riesling grapes were very expensive and only grown in select parts of the globe. But by the end of the 20th century, Riesling had experienced new life, especially in North America. In Washington State, the Riesling produced soon became known for its excellent quality, and its production spiked, becoming second to the ever-popular Chardonnay. Fast forward to 2022, and today the majority of top-quality Riesling in North America is produced in Washington State. These wines of today produced in the State of Washington take on a different profile from those wines produced in Germany or New York. The wine is well balanced with many fruity flavors, a rich body, and a delicate texture.

How Sweet is it?

The majority of Washington State Riesling white wine is produced in Columba Valley, which has the ideal climate for this particular grape. The long, dry, sunny days and cool evenings allow the grapes to have a range of fruity flavors combined with an intense aroma and just the right acidity.

When Riesling was first produced in Washington, it was sweet and that was because there was a demand for such wine. Today, however, more wine drinkers prefer less sweet and dry wines and, hence, there is a range of Riesling wines produced that vary from sweet-medium dry to dry.

The medium-dry and dry Riesling wines have delicate flavors that include hints of citrus lime, peach, apricot, and orange, with a mild tinge of spice. Sometimes the light Riesling may also have an effervescent character; while the Riesling may appear sweet, it is not sweet because there is a balance of acidity and residual sugar.

The diversity of Riesling vineyards in Washington, coupled with the soil and climate, permits a full range of wine styles, from sweet, to bone dry, to bubbly dessert wines.

Overall, the Washington State white wines are more delicate and more refined than those produced elsewhere. Even the sweet variety of Riesling does not overpower the taste buds; in fact, it complements the aroma and fruity flavors.

Riesling and Food Pairings

Riesling is an extremely popular wine in the Northwest, not only because of its fresh, floral, flavorful style, and high-quality fruit, but also because of how well it pairs with Northwest cuisine. One of the key features of Riesling is that it is a food-friendly wine. It pairs with a number of foods including:

  • Seafood
  • Spicy Asian cuisine
  • Hot Tex-Mex 
  • Indian curries
  • Mix of desserts
  • Pasta
  • Cheese and other related snacks

The Riesling produced from Columbia valley is versatile, easy to drink, and price friendly. There is a Riesling for all types of assorted taste buds, but the only way to know is to open a bottle of wine for yourself.

Pacific Rim & Company

Pacific Rim & Company winery in Richland, WA is one of the leading producers of Riesling wines in the state. The location of their vineyards in Columbia Valley is ideal for producing Riesling due to the climate and great soil. This is one major reason why Riesling from Pacific Rim & Company is regarded as one of the best in the nation. If you have been wanting to try a Riesling from Washington State, here are some prized wines that you should consider:

  • 2020 J RIESLING

If you are in doubt about a selection, call Pacific Rim & Company at 1-503-863-5454 to speak with a wine aficionado and employee.  At Pacific Rim & Company, they are passionate about Riesling wines.


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