Home > Riesling, wine quiz > Weekly Wine Quiz #64: Grape Trivia – Riesling

Weekly Wine Quiz #64: Grape Trivia – Riesling

Ripe Riesling Grapes, as captured in Wikipedia

Ripe Riesling Grapes, as captured in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend  and your new wine quiz!

And the moment you’ve being waiting for is here – as promised, we are switching to the white grapes! For the next 10 or so quizzes, we will be talking about white grapes. And we are starting with nothing less than the Riesling!

Riesling is one of the major white grapes (that “major” list typically includes Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) with long and somewhat turbulent history. The first official mentions of Riesling appear 1400s in Germany and then Alsace. From there, Riesling had been growing in popularity for the long time, about 100-120 years ago even surpassing red Bordeaux wines both in price and demand. Unfortunately, with prolonged wars and also subsequent Germany’s focus on quantity instead of quality in the middle of 20th century, Riesling lost its leadership position and currently is engaged in the uphill battle to regain its old popularity.

Overall, Riesling is considered to be very terroir-driven (similar to Pinot Noir), which you can easily see just by trying, for instance, German, Australian and Alsatian Rieslings side by side – you might perceive them as completely unrelated wines. Substantial acidity makes Riesling very food friendly (it is one of the most versatile white wines) and also allows it to age for a very long time – even 100 years would not be unheard of. Riesling is quite popular world-wide, growing in pretty much all major wine producing countries and slowly but steadily increasing both in terms of production and acreage.

Let’s get to our quiz, shall we?

Q1: Riesling is a very popular grape in US and Canada, growing in many regions. Considering the plantings of the Riesling in the regions, can you sort the list below from the biggest area plantings to the smallest?

a. California

b. New York

c. Ontario, Canada

d. State of Washington

Q2: Have you heard the term “noble rot”, which is often associated with certain types of Riesling? Can you explain what this term means and to which Riesling wines it is typically applicable (at least in Germany)?

Q3: Riesling is known for sometimes developing a specific aroma which has typically nothing to do with the wine – but it is not a fault. Do you know what aroma is that?

Q4: Name one major(!) wine producing country which doesn’t produce any Riesling wines.

Q5: If you look at the bottle of German Riesling, you will typically see the word such as Kabinett or Spatlese written on the label. Such words typically indicate the level of sweetness you should expect from wine  – even though this is not a precise definition, as these words only indicate sugar amount in the freshly pressed grape juice – the level of sugar in the resulting wine can be quite different depending on the way the fermentation is done. Can you sort the following list of these key indicators from the lowest sugar content to the highest?

a. Auslese

b. Berenauslese

c. Eiswein

d. Kabinett

e. Spatlese

f. Trockenberenauslese

Good luck, enjoy and have a great weekend! Cheers!

  1. July 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

    1. Ontario, New York, Washington State, California
    2. Noble rot is associated especially with sweet Trockenbeerenauslese and with Eiswein. It’s a type of rot that grows on mature grapes. Grapes affected with noble rot produce sweet, concentrated wines.
    3. Petrol. Aged Riesling wines of high quality tend to develop a petrol note.
    4. I can’t think of any major wine producing country that does not cultivate any Riesling. Even Argentina and South Africa produce Riesling..
    5. Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein.

    • talkavino
      July 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      excellent work! Answers are coming on Wednesday

  2. July 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    1. California, Washington, Ontario, New York Here’s my reasoning; California has 90% of the US vineyards, even though Riesling is not a major player, it is grown in central valley, which makes up 50% of California’s vineyards. Washington is the second largest grower of Vinafera in the US. Ontario is known for its Eiswein. Even though NY is known for its Riesling, the majority of its plantings are French-American hybrids. I’m looking forward to the correct answers.
    2. Noble rot, botrytis, is a fungus that grows in moist conditions. It’s associated with Beerenauslese (Trocken are dried, appasimento and Eisweins are frozen, but they may be rotten, too. I’m not sure and am looking forward to finding out.)
    3. The telltale sign of Riesling is petrol, it smells like a basketball
    4. I don’t believe Spain produces Riesling because most areas are too warm, other than Green Spain. But of the major regions, it’s the least likely to grow Riesling.
    5.Sugar content of the grape from low to high: Kabinett,(can ferment to 10% alcohol) Spatlese,(12% alc potential) Auslese,(14%) and the rest are dessert wines Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Trockenbeerenauslese

    Thanks for this quiz. I’ll take all the practice I can get!

    • talkavino
      July 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks for playing! Very good work – answers are coming on Wednesday

  3. July 7, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Finally what should be a piece of cake for me (although lounging in Chiang Mai might cloud my judgment):

    1. California, Ontario, Washington, New York.
    2. Noble rot is also called botrytis. It pierces the grapes skins and makes water evaporate quicker. This leads to concentration of sugar and acidity. Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese are made with botrytized grapes, Auslesen sometimes contain a smaller percentage of botrytis. Eiswein must not have botrytized grapes.
    3. Thatvwould be petrol, usually found in older Rieslings.
    4. My guess is Spain. I also considered South Africa, but am not sure whether you count that as a major wine region.
    5. This one is a bit tricky, because an Eiswein’s main condition is not sugar content but freezing temperatures at harvest. An Eiswein must have at least the sugar content of a Beerenauslese. So the list is: Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese, Eiswein/Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese.

    • talkavino
      July 7, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Thanks for playing, Oliver – I was hoping you will partake in your favorite subject : )
      Answers are coming on Wednesday.

  1. July 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm
  2. July 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm
  3. August 31, 2013 at 8:37 am
  4. November 30, 2013 at 9:04 am
  5. June 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

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