The key etiquette considerations on how to serve and drink Riesling. Rules to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

Riesling wine

What Riesling etiquette is

Riesling etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink Riesling wines. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Riesling etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect Riesling etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about Riesling

Riesling is a variety of white grapes. It is used to make white wine. Large producers are Germany, France, Austria, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Riesling wines differ by type and aroma. Riesling wines can be dry or sweet, still or sparkling. Their aroma can vary depending on the region, climate, and production method. In general, Riesling wines tend to be aromatic, with floral and fruity notes. Most of them are highly acidic.

how to serve and drink Riesling

Etiquette rules for serving and drinking Riesling

1) How to store Riesling

Store Riesling in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be constant. 

Place the bottles in a horizontal position. Keep them away from sources of heat. The bottles should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. 

You can store Riesling in the fridge a few days before serving. 

Do not store Riesling in the freezer.

After opening a bottle of Riesling, it is best to drink it within 2 to 3 days.

2) How to prepare Riesling

Riesling wines do not need decanting.  

To prepare Reisling for serving, it is sufficient to chill it to bring the wine to its optimal temperature. Place the bottle in the fridge or in a bucket with water and ice at least one hour before serving. 

Avoid chilling glasses in the fridge. The condensation waters down the wine and dilutes its taste.

3) How to serve & present Riesling

Serve Riesling wines chilled. The ideal temperature is about 13°C (55°F). Serve aged or sweet Riesling wines at a slightly warmer temperature. Ideally 16°C (60°F). Do not over-chill Riesling wines. Cold temperatures prevent the wine from fully releasing its bouquet. 

Present Riesling in its bottle. It is good etiquette to open the bottle at the dining table. After opening the bottle, you can place it in a bucket of water and ice to keep it chilled.

Hold the bottle by its body, never by its neck or cork. Serve Riesling in white wine glasses, which have a smaller belly compared to red wine glasses. Fill the glasses between ⅓ and ½.

4) When to serve & drink Riesling

Riesling wines can very well fit formal and informal occasions. You can serve Riesling wines for an aperitivo, pre-meal drinks, or during a meal.

Dry Riesling wines are best served before the meal. Bold or sweet Riesling can accompany a cheese platter, a fruit course, or dessert at the end of the meal. 

5) Food & aromas to pair Riesling with

Riesling wines are among the most versatile to pair. You can pair them with many foods or recipes. However, the ideal pairings depend on the variety and aroma of each specific Riesling wine.  

You can pair Riesling with red meat, such as pork or burgers. It goes well with chicken or poultry. 

Riesling wines pair well with delicate flavors. They are ideal with fish or seafood. Such as shrimp, prawns, or scampi. Riesling is also among the best wines to pair with sushi and sashimi, or even with caviar.

Serve Riesling to accompany salads or fruit salads. The aroma of Riesling matches perfectly with berries, such as blackberry or raspberry. It goes well with some tropical fruits too, such as passion fruit.

Riesling is ideal to accompany a cheese board, as it combines well with many kinds of cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano. Pecorino. Gouda. Gruyère. Asiago. Fontina. Taleggio. Dry Riesling combines well with delicate cheeses too, such as Ricotta.

6) How to drink Riesling

Drink Riesling in white wine chalices. Hold the glass by its stem to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

Drink it in small sips. A glass of Riesling should last between 15 and 30 minutes. Never drink shots of Riesling.

Never add ice to Riesling. First, ice waters down the wine and its bouquet. Furthermore, ice is usually added to low-quality or cheap beverages. Thus, adding ice to Riesling can be seen as an offense to the quality of the wine, and therefore to your host.

Riesling etiquette mistakes

Riesling etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Riesling etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots of Riesling.
  • 7/10. Serving Riesling warm.
  • 7/10. Not holding the glass by the stem. 
  • 5/10. Over-filling the glass.
  • 5/10. Adding ice to Riesling.

Additional information for properly serving Riesling

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

The calories in Riesling wines depend on the grape mix, alcohol volume, region, and production method.

In general, Riesling wines contain about 80 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). An individual serving is a white wine glass of 150 ml (5 oz). It contains 120 calories.

How to buy the best Riesling

A crucial factor in Riesling etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

Riesling wines can vary vastly in quality.

The most popular Riesling wines tend to come from Germany, Austria, and the French regions bordering Germany, such as Alsace.

Usually, Riesling wines are best consumed young. 

Alternatives to Riesling

As a substitute for Riesling wines, consider other white wines with a similar aroma and acidity profile. Gewürztraminer. Pinot Grigio. Chenin Blanc.