From the East Coast to the West Coast, American Riesling is the perfect companion to any picnic. Riesling’s high acidity matched with various levels of sweetness—from bone-dry to luscious—sets the stage for infinite food pairings.
The citrus and green fruit tones of zesty dry Rieslings complement grilled chicken salads with fresh garden greens and light, salty bites like deviled eggs. The touch of sweetness in off-dry and medium-dry Rieslings brings out notes of citrus, floral and peach, making it the prefect refreshment for spicy dishes. Intense medium-sweet and sweet versions are the perfect match for tasty desserts, from grilled peaches to Key lime pie.
These ten Rieslings hail from Oregon to New York, and can take you from appetizer to dessert.
Trefethen 2019 Estate Grown Dry Riesling (Oak Knoll District); $26, 94 points. Entirely steel-tank fermented, this white is crisp and clearly focused in layers of fennel, apple, lemon and apricot. Fresh and complex, it stands well on its own yet should be a beautiful companion to many meals. —Virginie Boone
Montinore 2019 Almost Dry Riesling (Willamette Valley); $18, 93 points. Sourced from old vines with an average age of 37 years, this outstanding wine will show best if it’s not over-chilled. Fermented entirely in stainless steel with a German yeast strain, it’s smooth and supple, with rounded flavors of apples, citrus, pears and kumquats. The lengthy finish adds a streak of breakfast tea. Editor’s Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Fess Parker 2019 Rodney’s Vineyard Riesling (Santa Barbara County); $25, 92 points. Chiseled granite and crushed gravel aromas make for a very stony entry to the brilliant nose of this bottling, which also offers tight apple-peel scents. The palate sizzles with acidity and grips with mineral-driven tension, allowing struck stone, lemon-pith and lime-peel flavors to compete for deserved attention. Drink now through 2039. Cellar Selection. —Matt Kettmann
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2019 Riesling (Columbia Valley); $9, 91 points. The aromas intoxicate, with notes of white peach, lime, jasmine and flower. Off-dry leaning sweeter stone fruit and Nestea Lemon Iced Tea flavors follow, with a strong sense of acidity threading through it. The balance and intensity are exquisite. It’s everything one could want from this variety. Best Buy. —Sean Sullivan
Poet’s Leap 2018 Riesling (Columbia Valley); $20, 91 points. Vibrant aromas of pear, flowers, Meyer lemon and herb are followed by off-dry drinking, medium-bodied Nestea iced tea flavors. Vibrant acidity backs it up, heightening the interest. It’s delicious, but give it some time to open up. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Weis 2019 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $18, 91 points. Bright aromas of lemon and lime peels meld with white flowers and pear rind in this zesty dry Riesling. There’s good weight to the medium-bodied palate, with persistent juicy orchard fruit flavors propped up by driven acidity. A gentle stoniness creeps in on the midpalate to ground it all, ending with a slightly pithy mouthwatering finish. —Alexander Peartree
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2019 Riesling (Willamette Valley); $14, 91 points. The back label indicates this is medium sweet, but it is so perfectly balanced between sugar and acid that it seems just barely off dry and could well accompany a spicy Thai noodle dish or other peppery entrée. Honeysuckle, juicy apple and a touch of white peach all come through in a round and smooth wine with instant appeal. The finish remains bright and tangy. Best Buy. —P.G.
Anthony Road 2019 Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $18, 90 points. Intense aromas of lime peels, fresh thyme and kerosene carry to the medium-bodied palate. A slightly candied citrus peel flavor chimes in, but a pithy texture and a savory note of crushed salt lend ample balance. It ends dry, savory and lifted, delivering a zesty Riesling that will play well at the dinner table. —A.P.
Lakewood 2019 Riesling (Finger Lakes); $15, 90 points. This is a well-balanced semidry Riesling that offers juicy tones of apple and yellow peach, lifted by lots of lemony zing. There’s a richness to the fruit but also nice lift that gives this a crisp, refreshing finish. Best Buy. —A.P.
Pacific Rim 2019 Sweet Riesling (Columbia Valley); $11, 89 points. Bright aromas of tangerine peel, flower, dried rose petal and citrus are followed by sweet, full feeling citrus flavors and plenty of acidity. There’s a lovely sense of balance to it all. Dried rose petal notes linger on the finish. Best Buy. —S.S.