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.
References and ResourcesWine Review Online; Summer Wines: Aromatic Whites; Ed McCarthy; 2006
Professional Friends of Wine; Wine 101; Gewurztraminer
Professional Friends of Wine; Wine 101; Chenin Blanc
Professional Friends of Wine; Wine 101; Viognier
Professional Friends of Wine; Wine 101, Pinot Gris