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Riesling Food Pairing: Options Galore

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Bowl of spicy asian chicken over rice with 3 spice bowls around it.

Riesling is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food. Its high acidity makes for easy food pairings. And because it’s produced in a range of sweet to dry, this opens up a variety of paring possibilities.

When pairing food and wine, think about how you describe the wine and how you describe the meal. If you use similar descriptions, then it will likely pair together well. To take it further, consider the meal preparations and seasonings for the dish. This can make or break the pairing.

We’ll break down the pairing for Riesling into two layers. The first layer is the Meal Base or the protein for the meal. The second layer considers food preparation, seasonings, and sides.

Riesling Taste Characteristics

Before we dive into the food pairings for Riesling, it’s important to understand the taste characteristics of this wine. It will help guide you to the best food pairings.

Riesling is a light bodied wine with high acidity. It has notes of citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit and pear along with stone fruit notes of peach and apricot. It’s produced in a range of dry to sweet.

Light preparations and seasonings pair best with a light bodied wine. At the same time an off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling pairs nicely with hot spicy dishes because the sweetness counteracts the heat in the dish. This high acid wine pairs easily with high acid foods like tomatoes or ingredients like lemon or vinegar. Consider pairing a Riesling with a salad dressed with vinaigrette.

A sweet Riesling is also the perfect go-to when pairing with desserts. The rule of thumb is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert in order for the pairing to work.

Riesling Food Pairing Matches

Layer 1: Meal Base

  • Seafood like sushi, oysters, scallops, crab, shrimp, lobster, tilapia, and halibut.

  • White meat like chicken, turkey, pork, duck.

Layer 2: Seasonings & Sides

  • Hot spicy seasonings like those found in Asian, Cajun, and Tex Mex foods. (off-dry Riesling)

  • Salty soy, and vinegar seasonings like those in Asian foods.

  • Acidic ingredients like lemon-based sauces and vinaigrettes.

  • Alliums like garlic and onions.

  • Herbs like basil, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano.

  • Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, chili pepper, squash, carrot, and pumpkin.

  • Green vegetables like kale, avocado, green beans, asparagus, artichokes.

  • Prepare meats by roasting or baking which makes for a better pairing with light-bodied wines.

Try Riesling with dishes like these from Food & Wine Magazine:

Riesling Food Pairing Clashes

Grilled steak on a cutting board.

Layer 1: Meal Base

  • Red meat like steak, ribs, and hearty stew.

Layer 2: Seasonings & Sides

  • Sweet Rieslings clash with acidic foods.

  • Dry Rieslings clash with sweet foods.

Chart with Riesling Food Pairings

Riesling Food Pairing Summary

Because Riesling is produced in a range of sweet to dry the options for pairing are seemingly endless. The high acidity is another key element for a great food wine. For 3 hacks to identify sweet or dry Riesling check out this post: Learn About Riesling.

Try these pairing matches right along-side the clashes to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s amazing to experience how the wine changes when paired with different foods. Bon Appétit!


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