Let’s Talk Riesling, Part II: Eric Larkee on Classifications & Taste Profiles

The International Riesling Foundation’s Riesling Taste Profile

A talk about acid-to-sugar ratios may sound more like a science class and less like a lesson at the bar at MGFD. The first part of my Riesling talk with Wine Director Eric Larkee was exactly that, and it focused mostly on the science.

Towards the end of my lesson though, Eric opened up about a whole set of classification laws and taste profiles. Based on science, these systems also offer consumers clues about what to expect from a bottle of Riesling.

Classification Systems from Germany and the Wachau region in Austria

The first indicator regarding a Riesling’s sweetness or dryness level is actually pretty simple. If you’re looking for dry Riesling, just look out for the German word “Trocken” (dry), or the English word “dry” on the label.

In terms of the other German classification laws, well, the system works based on initial grape sugar levels, when the grape is actually picked. They are not based on the final residual sugar levels.

So, that’s where the German system can get tricky. The initial grape sugar levels are later affected by the acid, pH, alcohol and ageing, as was explained in part I of the talk on Riesling. Continue reading