Among Europe’s wine styles, German Rieslings are unusual in that they are rarely fully dry. Technically, Germany makes Rieslings at every sugar level imaginable, but the most popular style is neither fully dry nor fully sweet. This affordably priced wine from the Mosel region is a perfect example, with a sweet-tart balance reminiscent of lemonade. Sweet wines tend to be specialties of Europe’s coldest wine regions, but not because the grapes grown in those zones are sweeter than usual. In fact, the reverse is true. Fruit grown in cooler climates is often a little less ripe, and therefore contains a little less sugar than that in warmer, sunnier zones. The reason cold regions have often made sweeter wines is that winemaking yeasts, whose job it is to convert sugar into alcohol, are greatly affected by temperature. In the days before electricity and climate control, cold winters could easily halt the progress of fermentation in unheated wine cellars by sending the yeasts into a form of hibernation until temperatures rose again in the spring. Vintners in northern regions figured out that if they carefully separated the inactive yeasts from the unfinished wine, they could make a delicious wine that had more sweetness and less alcohol than usual, with a lip-smackingly fresh taste of green apples and green grapes, like this one.
Relax Riesling, $9.99 (regularly $13.99; sale price through June 24). PLCB Item #9785.