Riesling Sales Increase in America
According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, sales of Riesling are increasing in the United States. Riesling is a grape that has long been haunted by its association with cheap, overly sweet jug wines. This is unfortunate because Riesling is capable of a combination of flavor concentration and finesse that few other white varietals achieve.
The SF Chronicle’s Janet Fletcher hit the nail on the head when she remarked, “The less consumers know about wine, these vintners say, the more likely they are to view Riesling as invariably sweet and terribly unfashionable and to fear that enjoying a glass would expose them as rubes.” It is quite ironic that many wine experts will name Riesling as their favorite white varietal, and yet the average consumer continues to see it as a vulgar grape.
But as Fletcher reports, the tide seems to be turning, with Riesling sales increasing 29% in 2006. California has a long history of producing the grape that dates to the 19th century. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, consumer tastes began to change and bone-dry wines became all the rage.
Not that many Rieslings aren’t produced completely dry, because a significant number are. However, the classic German style has low alcohol, high acidity, residual sugar, and no oak. This is the antithesis of the big, oaky Chardonnays that dominated the market for many years (and still do to a large degree).
In any event, it is good to see that the American palate is expanding and that consumers are becoming more adventurous. There really is nothing like the ethereal aromas and flavors of a great Riesling, and it is encouraging to see that more people are experiencing this.