Updated July 19th 2023
Riesling food pairing can be a bit of challenge as the wine can be booth sweet and dry. This fresh wine pairs well with many different dishes, especially spicy foods and snacks. This pairing guide will help you to find the best food for your bottle of Riesling, depending on wether it is dry, off-dry or sweet.
Riesling is probably the most famous sweet and aromatic white wine. With its high acidity, floral aromas and intense citrus flavours it matches perfectly with a wide range of food. It is produced all over the world, but mostly in Germany. The different sweetness levels of this aromatic wine can make it tricky to pair it with food. When the pairing is done correctly, it tastes heavenly.
Riesling is an aromatic white grape which originally comes from the Rhine region in Germany. It is considered one of the top three white grape varieties, together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is made in many different sweetness levels. You will find dry, semi-sweet, sweet, sparkling and late harvest styles of this grape variety.
The most famous Riesling style is the semi-sweet style which has a fresh acidity and hints of sweetness. It is characterized for its tingling high acidity and notes of citrus, beeswax, jasmin and steely minerality. Lately, the dry style is becoming increasingly popular. The sweet style contains a high amount of sugar and pairs very well with desserts. Riesling is, no matter the sweetness level, rarely aged in oak.
Germany is the largest producer of Riesling, especially Mosel Valley, Rhine Valley, Pfalz and Baden. Other popular Riesling areas include Alsace in France, Finger Lakes and California in the USA , Wachau region in Austria and Eden Valley in Australia.
Riesling is an aromatic and versatile wine which pairs well with many different types of food thanks to its high acidity and hint of sweetness. When pairing Riesling with food, it is important to take into consideration the following characteristics of the grape:
In order to find the best food to pair with your bottle of Riesling, you need to know if it is a dry, off-dry or a sweet Riesling. In the food paring suggestions below, you will find the best suggestions for the different styles. If you are buying Riesling from Germany, you might see any of these on the label.
Riesling is best served cooled at 7-10°C (45-48°F).
What is the best food pairing with Riesling? Most sommeliers will tell you to pair it with spicy food and we agree 100%. Riesling and other slightly sweet white wines are excellent parings with spicy and flavourful dishes. Mexican, Indian, Thai, Chinese… Many of the World’s cuisines are famous for their use of spices and chilies in their dishes. Many people think it is impossible to drink wine with spicy food, but it is definitely possible. You just need to choose the right one!
Due to the tannins in red wine, it is almost never a good pairing with hot and spicy food. A fresh white wine with a little bit of sweetness like Riesling will be a perfect pairing when served cold. The heat in the food will be tempered by the sweetness and low alcohol in the wine. In this guide you can read more about how to choose the best wine for spicy food and popular pairings
Tips! Spiciness is more than chili. It exists in many dishes, and you will find it in condiments like mustard, horseradish, peppers, ginger and many other.
What cheese goes best with Riesling? The answer is: many! An off-dry Riesling is an aromatic white wine with a hint of sweetness, which goes very well together with pungent washed-rind cheeses like Munster, Morbier, Raclette, Taleggio and Livarot. This type of cheese is usually very strong and pungent with a semi-soft texture. The sweetness and the acidity in the wine will balance the strong flavours in the cheese.
Dry Riesling can be paired with light and salty cheeses like Feta and Mozzarella. If you have a sweet Riesling with a significant sweetness, you can even drink it together with a strong blue cheese like Stilton or Roquefort. If you want to know more about different types of cheeses and their perfect wine pairings, you can read about it in our wine and cheese guide.
The crisp and rich flavor of an off-dry Riesling makes it an excellent paring with heavier fish dishes with lots of flavor. A glass of Riesling will taste great together with fish curry, grilled fish and oysters and hot sauce. A dry Riesling can be paired together with lighter fish dishes and seafood, such as oysters and boiled fish with lemon.
Vegetarian food and wine pairing is often a little bit tricky, but there are many lovely pairings. An off-dry Riesling is especially good with many Indian vegetarian and vegan dishes. Indian cuisine is known for its many flavorful vegetarian dishes. A refreshing Riesling is a good option for this type of dishes. To learn more about the best wine for vegetarian dishes, we recommend our wine guide for vegetarian food.
Tips! When it comes to salads and vegetables, it is better to choose a dry Riesling.
Does Riesling go well with pasta? Yes is does! Pasta with tomato sauce is both acid and slightly sweet, which makes Riesling a good pairing if you like to drink white wine. Avoid overly heavy sauces and flavours as they will overwhelm the delicate flavors of Riesling.
Thanks to its high acidity and pleasant aromas, Riesling is a great wine for finger foods and snacks, such as spicy canapés and salty potato chips. Many people prefer a dry Riesling as an aperitif, as it is less powerful than its sweeter styles. A Riesling sekt, which is a sparkling Riesling, is also a perfect choice for snacks.
Thanks to its sweetness, Riesling is an excellent wine to drink with desserts. Its characteristic flavors of citrus, beeswax and flowers is a great match with many sweet dishes. The off-dry, or sweet style, is good with lighter desserts such as lemon meringue pie, apple pie, or berry desserts. If you want to learn more about matching wine and desserts, check our guide about Wine and Dessert Pairings.
What food goes with dry Riesling? Lighter fish dishes, feta cheese, seafood… This light, citrusy Riesling is actually similar to Sauvignon Blanc. Light dishes with lime and lemon flavors go perfectly with mineral wines. It is also appreciated as an aperitif or together with finger foods.
What food goes with off-dry Riesling? Anything spicy! Off-dry is the most versatile and famous Riesling style. The dash of sweetness in the off-dry Riesling will balance the heat in Asian and Mexican cuisines and other spicy dishes. Curry, oysters with hot sauce, pad thai and Peking duck are great matches. It also pairs very well with wash-rind cheeses like Munster and Taleggio.
What food goes with sweet Riesling? Sweet desserts with lemon flavours of course! The tangy lemon aromas and high sweetness of sweet Riesling make it a perfect paring with lemon meringue pie and other citrusy desserts. It also pairs well with apple pie. If you want a cheese to your glass of sweet Riesling you can pair it with blue cheese.