What Does Riesling Taste Like? Here’s Everything To Know About Riesling

Originating from the grapes found in the Rhine River region, Riesling wine is an aromatic white wine that is revered by wine connoisseurs across the world. It is often described as highly acidic, with aromas of white flowers, citrus, and stone fruit.

What Does Riesling Taste Like? Here’s Everything To Know About Riesling

If you’ve never tasted Riesling, you’ll probably want a description of its flavor before you go looking for a bottle. So, what does Riesling taste like?

Here’s everything to know about Riesling, including what it tastes like, its aroma, and its most common characteristics. 

What Does Riesling Smell Like? 

Before we delve into the taste of Riesling, it’s important to acknowledge its aroma. This is because any wine tasting experience will start with understanding the aromas that rise out of the glass. 

As with most white wines, the aromas of Riesling wine are most intense when the wine is cold. So, try to store the wine in the refrigerator (or briefly in the freezer) before drinking it to get the most of the smells. 

Initially, the aromas of Riesling wine are similar to orchard fruits, such as apples, pears, apricots, and nectarines. It’s common to get notes of jasmine and honeycomb, which soften the aroma. You will also catch hints of something citrus-like, like lime zest. 

What’s most interesting about the aroma of Riesling is the noticeable scent of petroleum wax or petrol. You’d be right to smell petrol, as this comes from the natural compound TDN, which develops as a result of the aging Riesling wine.

This can be a hindrance to some who might not appreciate the smell, or a massive pro to those who enjoy the aroma. 

What Does Riesling Taste Like?

Riesling is a distinctively acidic white wine that is comparable to acidic soft drinks like lemonade. This acidity works particularly well with the citrus flavors of the wine, while the floral undertones of the honeycomb and jasmine help to mellow the acidity. 

The younger the Riesling wine, the more sour the flavor. This is because these wines are produced with unripe grapes, resulting in sour flavors similar to lemon, lime, and green apple.

These flavors are mellowed by the jasmine and chamomile aromas, but it’s certainly a tangier version of older Riesling wines. 

When the grapes are ripe, Riesling is distinctly sweeter, and works more like a dry dessert wine. The flavors are similar to pear, peach, apricot, apple, and grapefruit.

However, when Riesling is made to be dry, it will taste more like apple and grapefruit, whereas sweet Riesling tastes more like peach and apricot. 

In some cases, winemakers will produce sweet Riesling dessert wines to carry the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and anise.

It’s common for aged Rieslings to develop notes of honey and butter, making for a rich wine with countless deep layers of flavors. It’s certainly a sophisticated wine choice.

Vintage Rieslings have a fairly distinctive flavor profile. These Rieslings carry the aromas and flavors of fruit jams, almond, walnut, candied apricots, and dried fruits.

While Riesling is rarely aged in barrels, the products that are aged in barrels will carry notes of oak, toasted wood, chocolate, and vanilla. 

What Are The Common Characteristics Of Riesling?

Riesling will vary in specific flavor and aroma depending on the manufacturing process and the winemaker’s decisions. However, these are the most common characteristics of Riesling wine. 


Riesling is a fairly acidic white wine, resulting in a crispy and tart taste. The acidity works best when the wine is chilled. The high acidity content of Riesling is the reason why this wine can mature in its bottle for years, even decades, without going bad. 

Fruity Flavors 

Riesling will always have fruity flavors, ranging from apricot, grapefruit, nectarine, peach, apple, lime, pear, and even pineapple, depending on the bottle of wine. 

Aged Flavors

The older the Riesling, the more it will smell of petrol, lanolin, or diesel. This doesn’t mean the wine is less safe to drink – it’s just what happens as the wine ages. 


Riesling has a distinctive fruity and crisp aroma, which is mellowed by floral tones such as jasmine, honeycomb, citrus blossom, and ginger. You will also smell distinctive strong flavors, such as petroleum oil and petrol. 

Alcohol Content

Riesling is a fairly weak wine with a fairly low alcohol content of around 12%.

While a low ABV, this means that Riesling is classified as a dry white wine, as the grapes are fermented long enough to result in a slightly higher alcohol content compared to sweet wines. This also means Riesling is pleasant to consume in large quantities. 


So, there you have it! Riesling is a crisp and satisfyingly pleasant dry white wine that goes best with seafood, white meat, or by itself. Serve cold and in a chilled wine glass, and enjoy. 

Sarah Perez
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