The Riesling grape is part of a family of grapes known as aromatic whites. Aromatic whites are distinguished by their effusive aromas which are preserved as much as possible through winemaking process so that the natural scents and flavors of the grape are the dominant characteristics of the wine. Generally, aromatic whits are fermented slowly at cool temperatures and are aged in neutral vessels rather than oak barrels.
Originally an Italian grape but perfected in Alsace, France, the Gewurztraminer grape is famous for its heady perfume. Lychee is its signature fruit scent and is often accompanied by floral and spice aromas. Like Riesling, it can be vinified dry or sweet, but unlike Riesling it is characteristically low in acid.
Chenin Blanc has a delicate aromatic signature that is often dominated by grass and hay aromas along with some fruit, floral, and honey. It shares Riesling's acidity, which allows it to be made into dessert wines that are sweet but also well-balanced.
Viognier possesses an intense, heady set of aromas with strong fruit and floral fragrances, including peach, apricot, orange blossom, and tropical fruits. While the nose may imply a fruit-forward, sweet wine, Viognier is often extremely dry on the palate. It features a naturally low acidity and is often used in blending to add its strong aromas to other grapes.
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy, is a wine with two personalities. Because many winemakers today use the grape to make fairly bland table wine with very little flavor, it has a less than stellar reputation with many wine drinkers. In its best incarnations, however, Pinot Gris can be used to create delicately fruit-flavored wines with a light citrus nose that pair well with a wide range of foods, much like Riesling.
Wendy Hector has been a writer since 1999 and has been featured in "Scene Boston" and "In The Weeds" magazines. She has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from California State University, Northridge and holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Bath Spa University in England.