Finding the best Riesling can be difficult with so many options on the shelves - especially if you don’t have too much experience in the area.
Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of the nine best Rieslings for an affordable price. We made sure to include Riesling options that won’t leave you broke but will impress your guests or friends at the dinner party nonetheless.
Take a look at our guide after our rankings if you want to learn a bit more about Riesling. There’s a lot to know, and this information will help you decide for yourself.
How We Chose Our Rankings
Before we get into our top Riesling picks for the year, we wanted to give you some insight into why and how we chose the wines that we did. Accuracy is very important to us, but there are still a lot of different tastes, regions, and personal preferences that go into picking the best wine - no matter what type you’re talking about.
Keep in mind that we never receive financial compensation for any of the reviews we create. No wine company pays us for including their brand on this list. We strive to create accurate rankings that will apply to a wide range of readers and hope we’ve achieved that with this review.
Anyone can create a list of wines that will cost hundreds of dollars per bottle and tell you that these are the best wines on the planet. The same is true for Riesling. These bottles exist but are they practical or even worth spending your money on?
Some will say yes, but we argue that many of our readers are looking for discount wine options that will still blow the socks off of your dinner guests. For that reason, we prioritized affordability near the top of our considerations while making this list.
Again, it’s easy to see which wines are of superior quality by looking at the price tag. The valuable information comes when you’re hunting for a hidden gem for under $20 a bottle. That’s what we’ve included on this list, and we hope you enjoy what we’ve picked!
We consider ourselves wine snobs here, but we can’t do everything ourselves. People study their whole lives to become sommeliers, and it’s not a job that we can pretend to know everything about.
For that reason, we took a look at what our professional friends and consultants think about these Riesling. We have sophisticated palates, but they’re far from professional. Chances are, you’re in a similar position if you’re looking for the best Riesling to try.
We wanted to make a list that would apply to beginners just as much as they would to seasoned Riesling drinkers. We think we achieved that goal.
This point goes hand-in-hand with affordability. You can find almost any wine online these days, but it’s better when you can go to your local wine store and get your hands on it immediately. This is how wine is meant to be enjoyed, especially something like Riesling.
With that in mind, we neglected some of the more exclusive and difficult to find Riesling options for the purposes of our review. Sure, these Riesling brands might be some excellent options, but they probably aren’t practical for many of our readers.
Top 9 Best Rieslings
1. 2015 Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling 3
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The Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling 3 is a fantastic German Riesling for under $20 that you can likely find at your local market. The wine is smooth and easy to drink, with a medium-body and notes of citrus and spice.
This Riesling is a bit on the drier side, but won’t disappoint too heavily for those who prefer a sweeter wine.
2. 2015 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling
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The Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling is another top option in the category that will traditionally cost just over $20. This wine comes from the Alsace region in France.
The Riesling is sweet with a crisp finish. It comes with a hint of grapefruit and pineapple with a minerality undertone. This Riesling is another fantastic, affordable wine that will wow your dinner guests.
3. 2016 Eden Trail Eden Valley Riesling
The Eden Trail Eden Valley Riesling comes to us from Eden Valley in South Australia. You can buy this one for around $20 as well, and enjoy a crisp Riesling with green apple and citrus aromas. You will also get floral hints with this one.
This Riesling, like most from the area, is on the drier side of the spectrum.
4. 2014 Hugel Riesling
The Hugel Riesling is another selection that comes from Alsace, France. It’s sweeter than some of the other options we’ve included and provides citrus and stone aromas. You can pick up a bottle of this wine for under $25 as well, and it certainly won’t disappoint.
5. 2014 Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling
The Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling is another widely-available option that you can regularly find at your local Trader Joe’s. You’ll get notes of peach and lime, along with moderate acidity that helps to cut some of the sweetness of the Riesling.
This one comes from Washington State - the Columbia Valley to be exact - and is one of the cheapest options on this list. Your guests never need to know!
6. 2013 Eroica Riesling
The Eroica Riesling is another wine from Washington but gives you the sense of the German Riesling it was based on. You smell some spice and citrus and taste the rich, crisp sweetness that the region is known for.
This wine is usually a bit more expensive, but it’s still an affordable option you can bring with you to dinner.
7. 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling
The Kung Fu Girl Riesling out of Washington State might not come with a name that screams high-class wine, but the flavor profile certainly jumps off of the page. You’ll get floral notes as well as hints of peach and green apple. The sharp acidity helps to cut the sweetness, and you can buy a bottle for under $20.
8. 2017 Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling
The Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling is another crisp Riesling from Australia with a lime and floral aroma. It’s light and easy to drink. You don’t have to worry about cracking the bottle open as soon as you buy it, either. The wine will keep for much longer than some of the others we’ve included.
9. 2013 Carl Graff Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese
The 2013 Carl Graff Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese is another German wine that comes in at under $20 that can wow your dinner party. It presents a minerality mix with a dominating sweetness. The acidity helps balance things a bit here, but it’s still something that leans toward the much sweeter end of the spectrum.
Sweet Vs. Dry Riesling
While dry Riesling wasn’t always a popular choice, it’s becoming one today. People once thought that dry Riesling was the mark of low-quality, but that’s not the case anymore. There are plenty of high-quality Rieslings that are dry, but you’ll have to decide which style you prefer.
We included a few of both types on our list above, but the decision is a subjective one. Riesling has a strong acidity to it, which the sweetness helps to cut a bit. At the same time, though, it can be a bit too sweet for some wine drinkers, and the dry Riesling often tastes a bit lighter.
The region where the Riesling comes from has a lot to do with whether it will be sweet or dry. Take a look at the section below for more information on the different Riesling regions across the globe.
Different Regions of Riesling
The place in the world where the Riesling came from will give you more of an indication of how it will taste than anything. There are some very noticeable differences between certain regions that even a novice can point out.
On the other hand, there are a lot of subtleties that take a more experienced nose and palate to find. Ahead, we’ll give you some deeper information on some of the most popular regions in the world that are known for producing high-quality Riesling.
Germany is the birthplace of Riesling wine, and where much of the world’s production takes place today. It’s far from the only country that grows Riesling grapes, but it’s the hallmark of what people expect when they pick up a bottle.
There are several different sub-styles of German Rieslings out there, so it’s hard to pin down exactly what you can expect just because the bottle is from Germany. Most of the grapes come from the Mosel Valley, though, which provides mineral-heavy Riesling that’s light-bodied.
Most of the other areas of the country are a bit warmer on average, which translates to a richer Riesling than those from Mosel. These are medium-bodied for the most part, and range in acidity and sweetness.
You should also consider the classification of the wine you’re drinking. Since Germany produces multiple different subtypes, some will be sweeter and lighter, and others will be dryer and fuller.
Qualitätswein is one of the terms that’s helpful to know. Wines with this classification are dry, while Pradikatswein - another classification - almost always refers to sweet wine.
There are more terms and classifications to learn if you want to do a deep dive into Riesling and German wine in general, but these are the two to look for if you’re shopping for a German Riesling.
France is another country that has a major hand in the Riesling market, and that’s largely due to the Alsace region. Alsace is right on the border of Germany and France, and they have a storied history of producing wine that’s classically German.
The mountains in the region shield the region from rainfall to the west and the accompanying winds, which provides a fantastic location for Riesling to flourish. You can expect Riesling from this region to be dry with mineral and floral notes.
Most of the Riesling production in the US takes place in Washington State and Oregon. The rest is largely produced in Finger Lakes region in New York. Riesling grapes prefer cooler temperatures, so these climates are perfect for producing delicious Rieslings in the states.
New York Riesling is a bit drier than the ones made in the Pacific Northwest. They have strong hints of citrus flavors and minerality, especially the ice varieties coming out of New York.
The Rieslings in the Pacific Northwest are more popular for new Riesling drinkers because they’re lighter and easier on the nose and palate. There are thousands of acres dedicated to Riesling in Washington State alone, which is one of the reasons it leads the country in the production of the wine.
Not many people think of Australia as a hotbed of delicious Riesling. The grapes that go into the wine prefer cooler climates and much of Australia runs a bit warmer than you might expect. Still, the country has been producing the wine for over 150 years at this point, and offer some great options if you know where to look.
Western Australia and South Australia are the two states that provide the bulk of the country’s Riesling production. South Australia has vineyards that are high above sea level, which is a place where Riesling grapes feel right at home.
Similarly, the cool sea breeze in Western Australia makes the growth and development of Riesling grapes possible. Still, Australian Rieslings are considered to be “warmer climate” Rieslings and bring with them the full body that these regions are known for.
Australia’s neighbor has gotten into Riesling production a bit more recently, but the New Zealand market for Riesling is growing and expanding across the globe.
You can expect the Riesling from New Zealand to have a lighter, more minerality aroma to it, with slight variation depending on where in the country the grapes come from.