Welschriesling

Origin: Origin still debated, name means “foreign Riesling” in German, which indicates that the variety comes from outside of Germany. Completely unrelated to the famous Riesling grape

Grown: Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary (where it is known as Olasz Rizling), Slovenia and Serbia (where it is known as Laški Rizling). In Czech Republic and Slovakia (it is known as Rzling Vlassky) and in Croatia (where it goes under the name Graševina). Lastly Italy (where it is simply called Riesling Italico)

Climate: Dry and warmer climates

Viticulture: Tends to be very high in acidity in colder climates. Late ripening and has good yield potential (but with proportional loss of quality, which has been the norm for a long time in eastern Europe). Suitable for botrytis effected wines and late harvest

Vinification: Versatile, can be used in everything from sparkling to very sweet wines (Trockenbeerenauslese)

Regional names to look for on label:

  • Burgenland (Austria)

General Personality:

  • Colour: Pale lemon
  • Aromas: Pineapple, mango, citrus, apple, apricot, peach, ginger and sometimes floral notes. When sweet, the aromas tend more towards honey and exotic fruit. Overall nice aroma profile, but does not quite live up to Riesling’s aromatic profile, which has given it a bit of a bad reputation, despite the fact that they are completely unrelated
  • Taste and Texture: High acidity, even in warm climates, medium bodied, can be everything between bone dry to sweet. Mainly the sweet style that has gained popularity in the last few years
  • Conclusion: Two things have held Welschriesling back:
    Primary, its name. It has always been compared with Riesling and seen as the lesser of the two.
    Secondary, it has been used for mass production, without focus on quality. Welschriesling was mainly grown in Eastern Europe, where the size of the harvest up until recently, was far more important then the quality of it. Which of course resulted in bland, unbalanced wines.
    But once out of the huge shadow cast by Riesling, and with new investments, Welschriesling has a lot of potential
  • Future: Sweet wines can age, while the dry wines are made to be enjoyed now (again, not to be confused with Riesling)

Food pairings:

  • General: A wine made for seafood! With its good acidity and fresh aroma, it is as adaptable as any white wine can be, but without becoming dull when on its own. As dry Welschrieslings are spreading across the world, so is the realisation about how well it works with seafood and as for the sweeter examples, with Asian inspired cuisine
  • Obvious pairing: Tuna or “Chuna”
    Another so simple, but mind-blowing idea. Here we have a completely Vegan Tuna, made from chickpeas (ergo the nickname Chuna), nori and a few other things. You can simply throw it together in ten minutes, and it works anywhere where you would have liked to use traditional fish-based tuna. I made a tuna sandwich (first ever in my life), but you can throw it together with some salad, or just put it in a baked potato
  • On the wild side: “Seafood” Linguine
    Maybe not such a wild pairing, seafood pasta and white wine is always a given, but here without a fish in sight, it becomes a bit of a gamble. A Seafood Pasta with King oyster Mushrooms instead of scallops, Hearts of Palm instead of shrimp and Banana Blossom instead of fish. Some dried kelp (or nori if you cannot find kelp) will give it a “fishy” flavour. I actually also highly recommend you to pour a bit of the wine into the sauce, somewhere there after the garlic, to enhance to combination even further. As always, be careful with the Red Pepper Flakes, especially if the wine is completely dry
  • A Sweet Treat: Lemon Meringue Pie
    Made with Tofu! Yes, you read right, tofu! Who needs mains when we can incorporate tofu into deserts? There are countless lemon meringue pie recipes out there. I like This One, since it is made from things any self-respecting vegan already will have at home (you do not need to buy any fake -processed-egg alternatives). Here of course, we are talking dessert wines made from Welschriesling Since they will be sweet, but still with a really good acidity, it is a good combination to something sweet and sour, like a lemon meringue pie. The citrus aromas marry well, and it is just heaven inside of your mouth with the fluffy meringue