|1. Gustave Lorentz||2. Viognier||3. Simonsig|
You have found a style of wine that you love and have explored it in all its glory. You are now looking for something along the same lines but with just enough difference to excite the curiosity of your tastebuds.
It is little wonder you have a soft spot for Riesling. Originating from Germany, this versatile varietal is one made in elegant dry, sweet and late harvest styles and has earned a reputation as of the classic white grapes in the world of wine. An aromatic variety, some experts say that Riesling has been cultivated for as far back as 2000 years and in the winery, winemakers take special care to preserve its high acidity, distinct and delicate flavors, fermenting it in cool temperatures and avoiding oak aging to let its floral character shine through.
Germany is the spiritual home of Riesling, but it travels well, thrives in frosty regions, and is very expressive of its terroir. Depending on where it grows, wines show differing degrees of blossom, stone fruit, citrus, beeswax, and mineral tones while the most developed boast lovely petrol aromas.
Riesling-producing regions and countries in Europe include the famous Alsace in France, Austria, Croatia, and Italy. New world producers have also made a success of Riesling in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and America.
No doubt you know all of this though because you are already a fan or know someone who is! If you are looking for a Riesling soulmate, read this guide on.
Top 4 Best Wines Similar To Riesling 2021
For a grape with such a Germanic-sounding name, it may come as a surprise to learn that this varietal hails from Italy. One mention of this grape makes Germany and Alsace come to mind as it has flourished in these areas. New Zealand and South Africa are also synonymous with quality Gewürztraminer production. Like its German cousin, Gewürztraminer is renowned for its heady, floral, and spicy nose but exotic lychee is its signature aroma. Like Riesling, it comes dry and sweet, but its acidity is much lower.
Let’s go to France for a taste of this wine. Gustave Lorentz is a famous house in the Alsace that makes exceptional yet accessible wines from all of the region’s grapes. Its golden-hued Gewürztraminer Alsace Réserve is bursting with rose aromas and peach and lychee flavors. It is complex but fresh and food-friendly with a spicy, ginger finish. In this case, Réserve means you can enjoy now with spicy Asian cuisine, smoked salmon or blue cheese or cellar for five to seven years. Santé!
Thriving in France’s Northern Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon regions, Viognier has also made a splash in California, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Like Riesling, this grape makes intensely aromatic wines with powerful florals and tropical notes. For such a fruit-forward nose, Viognier is surprisingly dry. Its low acidity and ripe qualities make a full-bodied, richly textured wine often described as hedonistic, reflective of its love of warm climates.
The Northern Rhône Valley in France offers excellent alternatives to Riesling. This area is famed for its sun trap slopes and expressive terroir. Cave Julien Cécillon has a range of Rhône wines including a limited-edition Viognier named Invictus. A brilliant straw color, a stone fruit nose deepens on the palate with toasty vanilla notes courtesy of oak. The finish is fresh and lively. Pair it with seafood and shellfish, roasted chicken, spicy cuisine or grilled veggies. It also goes well with a selection of hard and soft cheeses.
3. Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is an adaptable grape that can range from bone dry expression to sparking depending on where it grows and winemaker choices. Its dominant aromas are grass, hay, fruits, florals and honey with its sweet notes shining through to varying degrees in all of its styles. It has high acidity in common with Riesling which lends itself well to balanced dessert wines.
This varietal comes from the Loire Valley in France but also thrives in North and South America. When you think of Chenin Blanc though, it is often South Africa that comes to mind where it is practically its national grape. This varietal does so well that more than 50% of worldwide Chenin Blanc vineyards are found in South Africa and winemakers have taken a shine to make outstanding stand-alone Chenin Blanc wines. Stellenbosch and Swartland are two of the most prominent regions for this grape where they make bright, fresh, and fruity styles with the high acidity it shares with Riesling.
Simonsig is one of Stellenbosch’s most famous wine producers with a Chenin Blanc that is a stellar introduction to the varietal. A glowing straw color, this wine displays layers of tropical fruit with lemon notes and glittering acidity. Light and refreshing, pair this with beetroot salad and goat’s cheese, mussels, or roasted chicken.
Known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Pinot Gris everywhere else, this grape often gets a bad rap as producing bland wine with a little personality. With good vineyard management and winemaking though, Pinot Gris expenses food-friendly delicate fruit flavors with citrus notes making it remarkably similar to Riesling.
Grown in Northern Italy, Alsace, Germany, New Zealand, and Hungary, this varietal displays a light, dry, balanced expression with mineral complexity in cooler climes while warmer growing regions produce ripe orchard and tropical fruity, gingery wines with buttery hints.
One of Northern Italy’s great grapes, this region is a good place to start as an alternative to Riesling. Elena Walch in Alto Adige is one of the area’s leading producers with several Pinot Grigios in its range. Its Pinot Grigio Selezione is light yellow to the eye and packed with ripe pear, pepper, and sage notes. It also has an interesting salty minerality that comes out delicately yet persistently. It is ideal as an aperitif or paired with cheese fondue, pasta dishes, or grilled fish.
So, there you have it – four enticing alternatives when you love Riesling but need a little time apart. Cheers!