A Guide To Riesling (It Ain't All Sweet)

OK, so there is much more to the Finger Lakes than Riesling. But if the cool-climate white wine, with its razor-sharp acidity and nose-tickling aromatics is your thing, then the New York state wine region is right up your alley. The Finger Lakes makes great Riesling. It's also home to the president of the International Riesling Foundation, Jim Trezise, who helped design the new Riesling Taste Profile, a handy little tool to help people better understand Riesling.

Many people think of Riesling as a sweet wine. And it certainly can be. But in its various incarnations, it ranges from sweet to dry with a whole lot of variation in between. That's why the International Riesling Foundation enlisted a select group of winemakers and tasters from Riesling-producing regions around the world to help create a reliable guide to the diverse wine. The Riesling Taste Profile is a graphic that represents a methodically devised calculation for establishing the sugar, acid and pH of a wine, so that a consumer might know what to expect simply by consulting the label.

The user-friendly scale is now featured on 26 million bottles of Riesling worldwide. Here's a primer on how it works: a wine considered "dry" has a sugar-to-acid ratio not exceeding 1.0 and a pH not exceeding 3.2. A sweet Riesling has a sugar-to-acid ratio above 4.1 and a higher pH. A wine with a high sugar-to-acid ratio and a lower pH may be classified as drier than if you just looked at the sweetness.

Confused yet? Well, now you know how useful the Riesling Taste Profile can be. It condenses all this information into an easy-to-read scale with an arrow pointing at where a particular wine falls. Sweet? Dry? Medium Dry? Now, you don't have to do the math. You can just point and drink.

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