So how do you pronounce Riesling?
Ordering a bottle of apple-tasting Riesling can be a fraught experience when you have to pronounce a wine that has been called one of “the world’s most misunderstood, and mispronounced, grape variety” (see JancisRobinson.com). Do you say “reece-ling”,”’rice-ling”, “roo-sling”, “rise-ling” or even “reeze-leng”?
It’s the tricky “ie” that makes this German grape variety, and its wines, hard to fathom for English speakers. Just consider for a moment the range of ways that “ie” is pronounced in this list of words:
We have an “oo” in “view” (like Typhoo tea) and and a short “eh” in “lieutenant” – unless you say it the American way and it becomes “oo” again. Order some “fries” and the “ie” sounds like an “I”, while “piece” and “niece” are a long “ee” while “weird” is just, well, odd.
So how would the Germans pronounce it? You can find out by listening here.
What you’ll notice is that when there are two consecutive vowels (like “ie”) then the German way is to stress the second one – so in Riesling it is the “e” becoming “reece-ling” with a heavily rolled “r” at the beginning.
But hang on, was it always said that way?
Riesling’s historical roots go back to the fifteenth century in the city of Worms, Germany (or what was then part of the Frankish Empire) where it is first mentioned as “Rüssling”. The double dots over the “u” (an umlaut) means that you have to go for it when saying it loud – so it becomes “roose-ling”. And then there’s a map from Alsace of 1348 that shows it as “Russelinge” and a document from a hundred years later that spells it “Rissling”.
So just how do you say “Riesling”? Well for now let’s stick to “reece-ling” and wait to see how it all pans out over the next couple of hundred years.
Paula’s Riesling Reviews from wineuncorked.co.uk
Aldi Exquisite Clare Valley Riesling 2018
5 star rating
An attractive green-tinge to the yellow colour draws you in to the pear and sponge cake aromas. Fruity flavours of apple, lime and grapefruit are satisfying.
Aldi Mosel Riesling Spatlese 2018, Piesporter Goldtropfchen 9% alc
4 star rating
When you see the word “spatlese” on a German wine it means the grapes used to make it were picked late in the harvest and so will taste ripe and sweet. This translates into a slightly sweet tasting wine – but not so sweet that it becomes a dessert wine. This example has a light honey edge but is balanced with a lemon zing and apple strudel flavours.
Tesco German Riesling 2018
1 star rating
Aromas of almonds and flavour of apple juice with an aspirin dissolved in it. Disjointed and odd.
Tesco Finest Steep Slopes German Riesling 2018
3 star rating
A simple wine with light coconut and apple aromas. Flavour has what the label describes as “steeliness” which is less a flavour and more a teeth-drying enamel removing experience that many German Rieslings exhibit. Expensive for what it is.
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4 star rating (very good wine)
3 star rating (good wine but over priced)
2 star rating (a disappointing wine)
1 star rating (little to offer)
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