Friday, November 22, 2013

The IRF Sweetness Scale & Cheap Dry Riesling

Riesling can be a problematic wine, because it can range from fully dry to fully sweet, and it's not always obvious from the label where on the spectrum a particular wine will fall.  Almost a year ago I wrote about a simple way to use the German labeling system and the alcohol content to make a good guess at the sweetness level (more on that here).  And shortly afterward I posted about a sweetness scale that the International Riesling Foundation is encouraging Riesling producers to use on their labels, so that we know for sure what we're buying (more on that here).  The sweetness scale is great for people like me who are more interested in dry Rieslings, which are in the minority.

I've seen the sweetness scale on a few bottles so far.  One is the Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling from Australia's Eden Valley.  It says "dry" on the front, but also includes the sweetness scale on the back.  It has a medium body, high acid, and the lemony apricot flavors you'd expect from this grape.  It also has that nice minerality that many of us want from our Riesling.  At $12 it's a good value.  I found it at Costco.

  

It's a common belief among consumers that all Rieslings are sweet, and Riesling producers are aware of that, so those that make a dry Riesling are often the first to label their bottles that way.  Chateau Ste. Michelle puts "Dry Riesling" on its front label, although I don't believe it uses the IRF sweetness scale on the back.  Incidentally, that wine is also a great value if you're looking for an inexpensive dry Riesling, at less than $8 at Spec's.


I'm looking forward to seeing the scale used more often.  I think it's a great thing - a big help to consumers that I'm sure will ultimately increase sales for the producers.

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