Tasting Notes: Höpler Riesling

Kevin has declared that he loves Riesling. I think we had it at a tasting once and he was surprised by the dry Riesling, so ever since then he has tried to find good Rieslings by the glass when we go to restaurants with respectable wine lists. When we were in Highlands about a month ago, the wine shop had an Austrian Riesling on their machines. I tasted it, liked it, and bought a bottle to do a more official tasting at home. 

The Facts

  • Producer: Höpler
  • Region: Burgenland, Austria
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Riesling
  • Where I purchased: Mountaintop Wine Shoppe*, Highlands, NC
  • Price: $19.99

*Mountaintop Wine Shoppe in Highlands, North Carolina. If you're ever vacationing there, check it out! They are the nicest people with a GREAT selection and great prices. Bobby, the owner, is super knowledgeable and friendly. It's difficult for us to leave without a case to take home.

  • Eyes: This wine was a clear, pale yellow color and almost had a greenish tint to it. It was not very viscous which implies lower alcohol. This is normal for Riesling since they tend to have more sugar content. Most people associate Riesling with sweet wines, but in fact, there can be (and this particular one is) a dry Riesling. This wine had about 11% alcohol, so the viscosity did not lie!
  • Nose: This white smelled very good. There were notes of lemon citrus, green apple, and peach. Doesn't all of those flavors sounds awesome? It was like spring or summer in a glass.
  • Mouth: This wine is super refreshing! I served it "refrigerator" cold and it was perfect for the warm evening we were having. The fruitiness that was on the nose definitely came through when I actually tried it, and I could especially taste the apple. It was tangy and acidic and everything I like in a white wine.
  • Thoughts: This is a great choice! As I mentioned above, it's everything I want in a white wine... fruity, acidic, and refreshing. I liked the apple notes a lot and the smell was delicious. I know Riesling gets a bad rap in the United States for being a super sweet wine, but that doesn't have to be the case. I am going to have to agree with my husband on this one and say that dry Rieslings are definitely a wine I will have to start drinking more of! 

As a random side note, I came across this post about the winemaker of Höpler (a Höpler himself) on Wine for Normal People. Check it out if you'd like to read more about the winery!


Dry vs. Sweet

One of the most difficult things to learn about wine, in my opinion, is how to describe it. You not only have to rely on all of your senses and pay attention to the tastes and smells of the culinary world and beyond (freshly opened can of tennis balls, anyone?), but you have to know what "wine lingo" to use. The "wine lingo" is a huge barrier to entry into the wine world. We do not want to seem incompentent or uninformed when ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant, so people either shy away or only stick to wines they know.

If you do ask for a recommendation, usually one of the first questions after "white or red" is do you like dry or sweet wines? So what do these words dry and sweet actually mean in the wine world?

I used to think that dry meant the wine actually gave the feeling of drying out your mouth a little bit, but this is not the case. Usually that is attributed to alcohol content or tannin. Dry actually means that there is no residual sugar left in a wine after the fermentation process, and therefore, it is not sweet. Dry is simply the opposite of sweet.

Another key thing to remember is that sweet and fruity are not necessarily the same. Sure, sweet wines can be fruity, but cou can also taste fruit flavors in a dry wine, it just won't be sweet. As I read somewhere during my research on dry wines, think of sweet as like apple or grape juice. Dry wines will still have a fruit flavor, just not the sugary sweet taste of a fruit juice.

This topic can be very difficult to describe without having wines in front of you to taste and because sweetness is subjective, but I hope that this helped clear up the dry vs. sweet debate at least a little bit.