From My Knowldege and Experiences

Dining Widya's Wines: Relishing, Refreshing Riesling

Saturday, January 29, 2022
Riesling for me is the hero for pairing, it is so easy to pair with food and presents levels of sweetness that make it incredibly complementary with Indonesian cuisine. Even a simple vegetable pairing with Riesling will not go wrong!

If you love floral perfumes then a Riesling is for you, as the grapes have both floral and fruity aromas. In fact, these aromas are so prominent that its best to rinse your glass after drinking a Riesling before you drink another type of wine in the same glass. However, the Riesling comes in a wide range from dry, to medium sweet to sweet. Typically it is light in body, has a complex fruit flavour of apple, lime, pineapple, pear, peach, apricot, honeycomb, honey, ginger — it even has that tangy smell similar to petrol or petroleum wax if the wine is aged.

Riesling is associated with Germany, especially the Rhine region. The country's cool climate means that more white grapes are grown, and they often have a higher acidity. What is interesting about the laws governing wines in Germany is that their quality is judged not only about the region of origin, but focuses also on the sweetness level in the wines that they produce. Let's imagine how this works: in the cool climate region the process of photosynthesis in the grape growing cycle is more difficult; this is not only due to the limited sunlight and heat, vineyards must also be in special plots that are influenced by the correct environmental conditions. Only then can such grapes be produced with excellent ripeness, with more sugar content, which results in better quality wines.

Let's get more familiar with German wines, as their laws will be present on their wine labels. The entry level wine or table wines will be under the term landwein. The higher quality wines will be labeled as Qualit5tswein and Prrklikatswein, simply to understand these two meanings which define quality German grapes. Rieslings in Oualithtswein usually will be light bodied and dry, the term for dry wines in Germany is Trocken. Meanwhile Pradikatswein are divided into categories by the level of sugar in the grapes, meaning in this category wine generally will be sweet and the level of sweetness will be called (from less to higher) Kabinet, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. We are talking about 148 gram /litre to 260 gram /litre sugar in the wines, wow...Then how can we survive drinking the wines with that level of sugar? Remember that Riesling is a grape with high acidity characteristics, thus the sugar level will help to balance the acidity in the wines.

Now, onto to some Riesling wine reviews! Let me take you to one of Germany's most famous regions, Mosel, known for their quality wines due to their capability to produce with different sugar levels. Let's start with Dr Zenzen Riesling Kabinett "Sonnenhofberger',' Mosel 2016. You must wonder why wine from Germany has a "Dr." title in their wine? It's not only a Riesling thing but more a German thing. In German culture, someone with an advanced degree can use the title Dr. It can also be used as a term of respect for someone who is accomplished outside of educational institutions. Many of the "Dr." winery brands are named after someone with an advanced degree in agriculture or viticulture.

Back to the wine review: Dr Zenzen Riesling Kabinett" Sonnenhofberger" Mosel 2016. As the label mentions, Kabinett indicates medium sweetness with light alcohol, and it is a very aromatic wine. It was a pleasure to enjoy the aroma of this wine, with a typical floral aroma with lots of lemon, peach, ripe pineapple, red apple, pear, apricot. On the palate it had high acidity, very refreshing, noticeable sweetness, acidity and sweetness in perfect balance, and a mineral finish. I smelled the petrol on this wine - a typical aroma that you could find in aged Riesling, but you will never say that in public, just use the term mineral if you found this smell in the wine.

The second wine is from Australia and bear in mind Riesling from Australia will be almost always dry. My choice is the d'Arenberg Dry Dam Riesling McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, a cool climate region in south Australia. Even though it's not as cold as Germany, its characteristic is still high acidity and very aromatic but more with aromas of green apple, lime, and white flowers. I smelled bit of stoniness in the wine, on the palate it had high acidity with its not sweet yet very strong fruit; it coated the mid-palate nicely, there was a lot of mineral and I even tasted a touch of saltiness. A lot of apple, lime, mandarin and grapefruit flavours, finished medium with very balanced acidity and fruitiness.

The third wine is Two Islands Riesling from Hatten Winery, with grapes from the Clare Valley area. This is a young wine with very aromatic scent of spring blossom, lemon peel, fresh cut cucumber. On the palate it was high acidity with lime, honey dew melon, green apple and some grassiness. The wine is dry but the acidity and fruitiness of the wine are quite balanced and very easy to drink.

If you like a refreshing wine, one that pairs easily with many types of dishes, a Riesling is your best bet. Cheers!


Kertawidyawati, better known as Widya, is the Head of the Hatten Education Center and a WSET Educator for Wine & Spirit. In this column for NOW!, Widya provides in-depth reviews on different wine varieties, whilst sharing tips and knowledge on wine tasting and pairing. If you want to learn more about Widya, and the Hatten Education Center, got to: