Riesling originated in the Rheingau region of southwestern Germany. It has been cultivated in Germany at least since the Fifteenth Century. Riesling is the dominant grape variety in Germany. It is found throughout Central Europe, the Alsace region of northeastern France, California, Australia, and New Zealand.

Contrary to the popular misconception that Riesling wines are always sweet, Riesling varies from a dry, acidic wine, to a slightly sweet wine to a very sweet wine that can happen when grapes are affected by noble rot (botrytis) or frost. More than most other white varieties, the Riesling grape is very sensitive to its soil, climate, and growing conditions. Cool-climate Rieslings have a aromatic, delicate nose, while warm-climate Rieslings remind one of limes and other citrus fruits. The color varies from a very pale yellow with a slightly green and often brilliant tinge when young that evolve with age into a golden, honey-colored, possibly viscous wine. The taste varies from a crisp, acidic flavor when young to a rich, honey, spicy, toasty palate associated with the developed wine.

Alsace Rieslings are acidic and taste of minerals and fruit. German Rieslings are sweeter and more aromatic, in particular the late vintage and Eiswein (made from grapes frozen on the vine) styles of the Rheingau, which are usually golden colored, syrupy and very sweet. They taste of lime or tropical fruit.

Wine regions

Riesling is found in the Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige regions of northern Italy, where it is also known as Rhine Riesling or Johannisberg Riesling

Viticulture and winemaking

Italian Riesling is usually vinified into a drier, crisper style than its German or Alsatian counterparts.