New York Riesling: Rare Beauty and Beautiful Wines

New York Riesling: Rare Beauty and Beautiful Wines

Welcome to Wine Wednesdays here at the 30 Minute Dinner Party! You can’t really have a dinner party without wine, but it is a big, confusing vino world out there. Don’t worry: many wine professionals don’t know the names of every wine making house! With Wine Wednesdays, we will give you what you need to know to select, serve, and say something witty about the wines of the world.

Riesling may be a German grape at heart, but some of the best (and best value) bottles are coming out of upstate New York.

Enough to Make Conversation

Never say that nothing good came out of the boonies. Upstate New York is the fourth largest wine producer in the U.S.

The excellent price-quality ratio of New York wines makes them very accessible. Meanwhile, the fact that this wine pairs with ethnic dishes as well as BBQ makes it an easy choice for any occasion.

And for those of you out there that still think of riesling as just a sweet sip or dessert wine, there are dry and semi-dry bottles aplenty.

The Lowdown

Grape: Riesling
Region: Finger Lakes, New York state
Flavor: effervescent, light, mellow
Color: honey
How to Serve: chilled (except for sweeter varieties)
Cost: $15-$25

Well-known Brands: Dr. Konstantin Frank, Hermann J. Wiemer, Red Newt, Chateau Lafayette Reneau

When to Drink: Drinkable after one or two years, high end bottles should age about five.

How to Pair: Riesling is one of the few wines that really pairs well with spicy Indian or Mexican food. It is a good fit for almost any dish though, and especially snappy with seafood.

The Backstory

Some vines trace their lineage back to pre-roman peoples. Other vineyards are have always been shrouded in celebrity. But New York Riesling has a seriously sassy history.

When Dr. Konstantin Frank (that’s Dr. of wine, not Dr. of medicine) arrived in upstate New York, they told him his vitis vinifera vines would never grow in America.

But Dr. Frank was from Odessa in the Ukraine – a place that makes New York winters look like a joke. Sure enough, when a brutal winter hit in 1957, most vineyards were decimated and Dr. Frank’s produced at peak yield.

Fun Party Facts

(1) The Finger Lakes are one of the 1,000 Place to See Before You Die (a New York Times #1 bestseller).

(2) In August, the Finger Lakes region organizes a Riesling festival to raise money for charity. As if wine and charity weren’t an odd enough combination, the festival include events like a 5K race and a bounce house.

(3) Lauded vintner Hermann J. Weimer says the Finger Lakes bear a striking resemblance to Germany’s fabled Moselle region.


Riesling is currently the fastest growing wine market in the U.S.

For the past two years, Wine Spectator has bestowed scores in the 90s on New York Rieslings.

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