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Two Faces of Riesling

by Jeff Flynt

DC comic book fans will know about Two-Face. For those who have no clue, the short version of his story is that he was once Harvey Dent, a clean-cut district attorney in Gotham City who ends up going insane after mob boss Sal Maroni throws acid at him, scarring half his face.

Dent goes on to adopt the "Two-Face" moniker, choosing to bring about good or evil based upon the outcome of a coin flip.

Fans of Riesling may be familiar with the good or "sweet" side to the aromatic white wine. It's Germany's top export from regions like Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Rheingau. New world wine countries also produce slightly sweet or "off dry" Rieslings like Australia and the U.S.

But there's another face that Riesling offers. It's not evil, in fact, it can be particularly brilliant.

These would be found in the Alsace region of France.

Alsatian Rieslings tend to be drier, full-bodied with slate features. They also will likely be a bit higher in alcohol content. With time, they do tend to have a smell of petrol. 


Rieslings are great for pairing with a wide range of food due to their high acidity and balance of sugar.

Because of their ability to feature the spectrum of aromas and flavors (along with roundness in the French versions), you can adjust the particular Riesling you buy with the meal you're willing to prepare.

It can be a more nuanced selection of wine. And don't worry, several of the Alsatian style of Riesling is available in Northeast Wisconsin.

There are also wineries in the U.S. that produce drier Rieslings, so you'll have the ability to go domestic if you so choose.

So next time you're looking for a different approach to a familiar wine, give the drier, austere, stony Riesling a chance.