Appearance

Refers to a wine’s clarity, not color. Unlike many white varietals, winemakers do not oak Riesling. To do so would compromise its crisp clarity.

Aroma

Traditionally defined as the smell that wine acquires from the grapes and from fermentation. Now it more commonly means the wine’s total smell, including changes that resulted from oak aging or that occurred in the bottle-good for bad. Riesling starts with intense aromas that rise from the glass (even when the wine is ice cold). This aromatic wine offers primary fruit aromas of orchard fruits like nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and pear. Besides fruit, you’ll often smell things like honeycomb, jasmine, or lime peel, along with a striking aroma that smells similar to petrol or petroleum wax (a natural compound called TDN).

Body

The impression of weight or fullness on the palate; usually the result of a combination of glycerin, alcohol and sugar. Commonly expressed as full-bodied medium-bodied or medium weight, or light bodied. Rieslings along with most white wines generally seen as crisp and refreshing are light bodied.

Taste

Bitter, buttery, earthy, chewy, fruity, herbaceous, oaky, perfumed, smoky, spiced, velvety etc. The most pronounced flavor inherent in pretty much any bottle of Riesling is that of fruit. Expect to taste fruit flavors including, but not limited to, limes, lemons, pineapples, apricots, apples, and pears. The wine also has a high acidity, which gives it a refreshing tartness.

Finish

The key to judging a wine’s quality is finish, also called aftertaste-a measure of the taste or flavors that linger in the mouth after the wine is tasted. That taste can be short and crisp, or it can linger for a minute or more, continuing to unfold the flavor secrets of the wine before finally fading away. Generally, more extensive finishes will be evident in higher quality wines; 20 to 30-seconds is good for the average bottle of wine and when it reaches 45 seconds, it is showing powerful flavors and careful crafting. It is not uncommon for spectacular wines to last as long as a minute or even more. Rieslings generally have a 30 second finish that is crisp and refreshing.