The Rise of Riesling

Paul Grieco's guide to his favorite grape

"When I talk about Riesling, I generally begin by quoting Nietzsche," says  Paul Grieco, partner and resident Riesling advocate at NYC's Hearth restaurant and Terroir wine bars.

"'Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.'"

In other words: Riesling will never be quite what you expect, which is exactly why you should start acquainting yourself with this often misunderstood, much loved white wine.

The first step to Riesling appreciation: Lose the notion that this is just a sweet wine.

A high-acid grape, Riesling has the uncanny ability to run the gamut of styles and flavors–from candy-sweet to bone-dry, with aromas of citrus, stone fruit, honeysuckle or petrol.

Head to NYC's Hearth restaurant for an education in Riesling

If sweet isn't your thing, look for Rieslings labeled "trocken," the German word for dry. Check the alcohol level as well–more often than not, the lower the alcohol, the sweeter the wine.

"The acidity in Riesling is enough to take the enamel off your teeth," explains Grieco, "but you don't immediately perceive it because it's balanced."

"Unfortunately, or fortunately, Riesling often requires a conversation," says Grieco, citing the multitudes of styles made around the world.

Grieco helped us pull together a cheat sheet to get us sorted (get it here). Check out his favorite producers and styles and then follow his advice and start your courtship with Riesling by starting a conversation with your sommelier or wine seller. Tell them what white wines you typically enjoy and ask for a Riesling that's similar.

"Any white wine from anywhere in the wine world–and I mean anywhere–can find a corresponding Riesling," Grieco  insists. "All you need is a willingness to try it."