The rhine riesling is an ancient white grape variety originating in Germany. Its origins seem very ancient: it is said that this grape variety may have been cultivated in the Rhine region as early as the 9th century, although the first documented mention dates back to 1435 when it was recorded in the county of Katzenelnbogen near Rüdesheim.

Rhine Riesling: characteristics

... of the plant

  • Appearance: leaf medium, rounded and trilobed, narrow V-shaped petiolar sinus with overlapping margins and shallow lateral sinuses. The upper page is bullous and dull deep green. The underside is arachnoid and light green. Petiole medium-long, thick and glabrous.
  • Maturation: end of September. Bunch small, cylindrical, somewhat stocky and compact (if you don't have the casting). Grape small and spheroid. Peel medium thick, consistent, speckled and bright yellow. Pulp juicy with a special, slightly aromatic flavour.
  • Productivity: discrete.
  • Vigour: remarkable.
  • Resistance to adversity: susceptible to dripping and rotting.
Rhine Riesling leaf

... of wine produced

A long-lived white wine that can age in the bottle for many years.

  • Visual examination: brilliant straw yellow from light to deep depending on the years of bottle ageing.
  • Olfactory examination: very intense, fine and elegant. Recognitions include hydrocarbons, graphite, green apple, lime, beeswax and jasmine.
  • Taste-olfactory examination: soft, fresh, warm, savoury, structured and very persistent.

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Rhine Riesling: cultivation areas

  • Italy: (suitable and recommended areas) Piedmont, Trentino and the provinces of Belluno, Gorizia, Padua, Pordenone, Treviso, Udine, Venice, Verona, Vicenza; (suitable areas) Abruzzo, Alto Adige, Emilia-Romagna, Latium, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Apulia, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria and in the province of Caserta.
  • World (in order of quantity): Germany (Moselle; Pfalz; Rheingau); United States (California; New York; Washington); Australia (South Australia: Adelaide Hills; Clare Valley; Eden Valley); France (Alsace); Austria (Lower Austria); Hungary (Kunsag). Small productions in New Zealand, Canada, Romania e Italy.

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Sommelier: the illustrated manual

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Rhine Riesling: Italian DOCG and DOC wines where allowed

  • DOCG: none.
  • DOC: Abruzzo, Alto Adige or dell'Alto Adige (in German Südtirol or Südtiroler), Colli Martani, Colli Tortonesi, Collio Goriziano or Collio, Friuli or Friuli Venezia Giulia (in Slovenian language Slovena Furlanjia or Furlanjia Juliska Krajna) Friuli Aquileia, Friuli Colli Orientali, Friuli Grave, Friuli Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli, Friuli Latisana, Garda, Langhe, Merlara, Oltrepò Pavese, Riviera del Garda Classico, Trentino, Vicenza.
Rhine Riesling cluster


This grape variety is capable of impressing both in its riesling trocken, both in its more mellow versions to the fabulous German and Austrian eiswein. Very interesting productions can also be found in Australia and New Zealand, although in these areas - as is also often the case at the sauvignon blanc - wines with a very 'constructed' sensory profile and less identity of terroir are produced, albeit sometimes of exceptional quality. It is therefore up to the sommelier to be able to recognise those 'primary' characters of the grape variety and to distinguish them from the 'secondary' ones deriving from the pedoclimatic environment in which it is rooted to the 'tertiary' ones donated by the culture of winemaking.


© Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies, National Catalogue of Vine Varieties.

© Bassi C., Sommelier: the illustrated manual, Cammeo DiVino, Reggio Emilia, 2022, pp. 170-171

© Degustibuss (cover photo)

Other white grape varieties to be studied: