How do you feel about Riesling?

Here, have a glass of Riesling! All right, how did that make you feel?

For many wine lovers, the white wines made from the Riesling grape, in Germany and elsewhere, can be hard to warm up to.

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Yet this doesn’t make much sense, and I say this as an infrequent Riesling drinker myself.

The issue with Riesling for many of us, I think, is not that Riesling isn’t good but that Riesling is different. It requires a paradigm shift for us to get up and move over from the familiar flavor profiles of dry French and Italian table wines and their New World descendants to the rather different style of Riesling.

But it’s a paradigm shift worth making.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a topic worth repeating. I don’t think I can improve on the way I said it in a column about eight years ago, so with your indulgence I’ll repeat myself:

Riesling makes a white wine of classic proportions, a wine that can be dry or sweet or in-between and that may range from feather-light to rich and dense. It is known for a “transparency” that can show off fruit, minerality and the complexity of great age, and it can be a magical companion with a broad range of food.

In some of its most popular styles, it can be light, fresh, even gently fizzy, with an appetizing sweet touch that ought to appeal to the American sweet tooth, with bone-dry options for those who prefer it like that.

And yet Riesling remains almost a niche grape for many wine lovers. It doesn’t claim much shelf space in the typical wine shop; and if you’re like me, you’re more likely to speak well of Riesling (as I’m doing right now) than you are to pick up a bottle and bring it home for dinner.

Why the cognitive dissonance? Speaking for myself, I suspect a couple of issues nudge some wine lovers away from Riesling. First, its unusually aromatic character and the fact that it sometimes – absolutely not always – carries a touch of sugar places it in a different flavor profile most of the other popular varietal wines. If you’ve been thinking about a Cabernet or Merlot or even a Chardonnay for dinner, turning to a Riesling requires you to slam on the brakes and do a quick shift of your mental gears.

I’m returning to this recurring subject this month to invite you to do that quick paradigm shift, grab a bottle of Riesling, taste it, and drop by our WineLovers Discussion Group forum to talk about it. You’ll find the conversation in this month’s Wine Focus discussion, Wine 203: Summer of Riesling 2021.

Dr. Loosen's beautiful winery is on the bank of the Mosel, with his hillside vineyards rising above.

Dr. Loosen’s beautiful winery is on the bank of the Mosel, with his hillside vineyards rising above.

To get you started, I’m sharing my recent tasting report on a modest but popular Riesling from Germany’s Mosel valley. Loosen Bros. 2019 “Dr. L” Mosel Riesling is a good starting point for that shift: It’s affordable, it’s typical of the region’s wines – yes, it is slightly sweet, but it’s a delicious fresh-fruit sweetness nicely balanced with fresh-fruit acidity. It’s easy to drink, and at 8.5% alcohol you can easily enjoy a second glass, and as Riesling does so well, it goes with a broad variety of food and serves just as well for sipping by itself on a warm late-spring day. (If you want to say Dr. Loosen’s name as Germans do, by the way, it’s “Low-zen,” not “Loo-sen.”)

You’ll find my tasting report below, followed by another pitch on Riesling’s behalf from WineLovers forum co-host David Bueker. Enjoy!

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Today’s Tasting Report

Loosen Bros. 2019 “Dr. L” Mosel Riesling Qualitätswein ($13.99)

"Dr. L" Mosel Riesling

A bowl of delicious white fruit offers itself in the appealing scent of this excellent pale-straw “Dr. L” Mosel Riesling. Peach, apple, and honeydew melon scents invite a taste, which presents similar ripe and juicy fruit shaped by crisp acidity that holds its perceptible fresh-fruit sweetness in balance. The stony minerality that’s typical of the Mosel becomes more perceptible and tart acidity takes over with lemon, lime, and tangerine zest in a very long finish. Light 8.5% alcohol, typical of the Mosel, makes it good with food and an appealing sipping wine. U.S. importer: Loosen Bros. USA Ltd., Salem, Oregon. (May 29, 2021)

FOOD MATCH: The back label proposes it as an ideal companion to mildly spicy stir-fry dishes and Indian curries, or as an aperitif. It went very well for us with a Northern Italian dish of spaghetti with butter and fresh sage, a hint of garlic and a touch of Parmigiano.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s a light and fresh wine designed for immediate enjoyment, but its balance, the character of the Riesling grape, and the sturdy metal screwcap hold possibility for some evolution in the cellar if you’d like to risk it with this relatively affordable wine.

It’s a good value at my price and’s $13 average U.S. retail. Look for bargains, as Wine-Searcher lists many vendors offering it under $10.

Here’s a detailed fact sheet from the U.S. importer.

Check prices and find vendors for Loosen Bros. 2019 “Dr. L” Mosel Riesling on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to read about Germany’s Mosel valley and find vendors and prices for dozens of other wines from the region.

For more about Dr. Loosen and other wines from this property, click this Wine-Searcher link.

Finally, click here for Wine-Searcher’s broad overview of Riesling, with links to many Riesling wines from around the world; and head over to this YouTube link for an interview (in English) with Dr. Loosen’s Ernie Loosen.


Wine Focus: Talk About Riesling

For your enjoyment, WineLovers Discussion Group co-host David Bueker writes the following essay to share his love for Riesling and invites you to join this month’s Wine Focus conversation in our WineLovers Discussion Group: Wine 203: Summer of Riesling 2021.

Riesling – Loved by its fans since 1435, hated by its detractors since 1435.

There is a case to be made that Riesling produces the greatest white wine in the world. Yes, it has to fight with Chardonnay for that honor, but Riesling comes in those really cool, tall bottles, and a magnum of Riesling looks like a baseball bat.

Aromatic, light, full of refreshing acidity, Riesling can make outstanding dry wines, and outstanding sweet wines. Oh, wait, we’re back here again. No, not all Riesling is sweet. No, there’s no foolproof way to know if a given bottle of Riesling will be completely, bone dry, or instead show some level of sweetness. There are hints from terms on labels, but even those are not a guarantee. Wait! Where are you going? There’s so much more to talk about!


Yes, Riesling can be frustrating, but for those of us who love it there are a million variations to explore. German Riesling is riding a wave of popularity among its dedicated fans that has echoes of the enthusiasm that followed the great 2001 vintage. American and Canadian producers are making huge strides in the quality of North American Rieslings. Austria offers a slew of top-quality examples that are almost always completely dry (yes, I said it…dry…it’s OK, you can come back now…I know it’s scary…really, it’s safe). Alsace is working through some of the most challenging effects of global climate change, yet still producing outstanding Rieslings, dry and sweet. Did I mention Australia?

So for the month of June, let’s celebrate the Summer of Riesling 2021. It’s just like Summer of Riesling 2020, except you can share a bottle with a friend and not have to worry about getting the straw around the edge of your mask.


Good wines under $10!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. Please tell us about your favorites!

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