30,000,000 bottles and counting
Want to buy a bottle of Riesling but you hesitate because you’re not sure if it’s dry or sweet or somewhere in between? Just look at the back label.
Wine consumers throughout the United States now benefit from a simple graphic that takes the mystery out of Riesling: The IRF Riesling Taste Profile.
Created by the International Riesling Foundation in late 2008, the Taste Profile now appears on back labels of more than 30,000,000 bottles of Riesling in the U.S. market. By simply looking at the back label, consumers can tell whether that wine is Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, or Sweet.
Consumer research has shown that many people believe Riesling is “a sweet white wine” when in fact it may vary from bone dry to lusciously sweet. Those who know this may still be reluctant to buy Riesling because they don’t know which taste is in a particular bottle. In addition, the research showed that consumers who don’t drink Riesling are not interested in trying it.
The IRF Riesling Taste Profile solves all those problems. It shows the range of possible taste sensations, identifies which one is in each bottle, and makes non-Riesling consumers more likely to give the wine a try.
Major wineries in the largest Riesling producing states — Washington, California, Oregon, Michigan and New York — are using the Taste Profile, along with wineries from other states and countries including Germany, Australia and New Zealand. The fact that many wineries produce several different styles of Riesling within the same vintage illustrates the need for the Taste Profile. (A partial list is shown here, including the number of different Rieslings from each winery, and photos of many labels are available here.)
The perceived taste of wine is derived not just from the level of natural residual sugar, but also to its interplay with acid and pH. With the input of wine makers from around the world, California wine writer Dan Berger spearheaded the creation of a technical formula (also on the web site) which normally should indicate what the wine tastes like. However, the ultimate decision on where to place the arrow along the scale is up to the wine maker.
“This is similar to the decision-making by wine makers about when to pick grapes,” said Berger. “At harvest they use a refractometer to get ‘the numbers’ which indicate the degree of ripeness, but the ultimate decision is based on flavor—tasting the grapes. The IRF Riesling Taste Profile’s formula of sugar, acid and pH provide an excellent indication of likely taste, but ultimately the proof is in the tasting.”
Research among members of the trade also showed great enthusiasm for the IRF Riesling Taste Profile by giving sommeliers and wine store employees information that helps them better serve their customers. The IRF Riesling Taste Profile categories are also being adopted by major international wine judgings such as the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits, and Riverside International, competitions. At the recent Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, which included 218 Rieslings from 16 U.S. states and 6 foreign countries, 38 U.S. wineries from 10 states included the IRF Riesling Taste Profile on their wines. The states were California, Idaho, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. (Most entries from other countries do not include the taste profile yet due to certain national regulations.)
“The use of the IRF Riesling Taste Profile is spreading rapidly, which is a great benefit for consumers,” said Jim Trezise, President of the IRF. “Riesling’s great strength is its versatility of tastes, and the Taste Profile takes the mystery out of what’s in the bottle. All that wine lovers need to do is turn the bottle to the back label to see what’s inside.”
Use of the IRF Riesling Taste Profile is free, and all of the guidelines and graphics are downloadable from the web site.
The IRF’s mission is: “To increase awareness, understanding, trial and sales of Riesling wines through a comprehensive, integrated system of industry cooperation, research, trade education, and consumer communication.”
Media Contact: Jim Trezise, President, IRF, email@example.com.