Pacific Rim
September 8, 2021 | wine | Pacific Rim

How Do I Know If My Riesling Is Sweet?

Aside from tasting the wine, how is it possible to tell if your wine is one of the sweet Riesling brands?  Riesling is a very flavorful aromatic wine that is native to Germany. The wine is known to possess a variety of fruity flavors, including apricots, peaches, pears, and apples.

White wine with grapes on old wooden table

Riesling wine is available in many flavors and styles, ranging from very dry to sweet dessert wines, including sparkling wine. It is one of the few white wines that can mature over many decades and has a distinct petrol aroma when aged. It is not always easy to tell from a label whether the Riesling is sweet or not.

Riesling wine is available as dry or sweet. But how does one tell if you have one of the sweetest Riesling brands?

Understanding the Fermentation Process

To understand why some wines are sweet, and others are acidic, it is important to know how riesling wine is made. Yeast is added to the crushed grapes during the fermentation process, which initiates a chemical reaction that converts the sugars released from grapes into alcohol. 

If the fermentation process is short, there will be lots of sugar leftover that have not been converted into alcohol, and the resulting wine will be sweet. On the other hand, if the fermentation process is prolonged, all the sugar will be converted into alcohol, and the wine will be very dry or full-bodied.

If all of the sugar in the wine is turned into alcohol, the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) will tend to be high, and the Residual Sugar (RS) will be low or zero. This would apply to a wine that was on the drier end of the spectrum. On the flip side, if there is a small amount of sugar left in the wine after the fermentation process, the ABV will be lower and the RS higher, which will result in a sweeter wine. If you are looking for a sweet Riesling brand, you can look for bottles with an ABV of 11% or lower and for a dry look for 14% and over. Remember, there can always be exceptions to the rule, though!

Know Where the Wine is From

Next, it is important to know where the wine is from. If the Riesling wine is from the French Alsace region, Austria, or Chile, it is most likely to be dry or acidic.  If the Riesling is from Australia, it will have citrus flavors, but maybe on the dry side. In addition, most of the Riesling wine made in California is also on the dry side.

If you want sweet Riesling, you need a Riesling wine from Germany or one from Washington state. In German, the label will indicate the following: 

1) Ripe Sweet Kabinett

2) Nectar Sweet Spatlese and Auslese

3) Syrup Sweet Beerenauslese Dessert-Style

Further, if the Riesling is from the Alsace region of France, the sweet wine label will indicate “Selection de Gran nobles” and “Vendange tardive.”

If all this sounds confusing, ask the server or the vendor if the wine is sweet. Or you can also call Pacific Rim and Company to speak to one of their knowledgeable wine representatives.  They will be happy to help in your quest of finding the sweetest Riesling brands. After all, their home state of Washington is the largest Riesling producer in the United States.


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