The only thing I know about Riesling: how delicious it tastes on a hot summer day. No other wine, for me, quenches thirst as well after a hot day spent outdoors. What about the grape itself makes it such a perfect summer wine? From the vineyard to the bottle, nearly everything about Riesling is engineered by man and nature to make it the most appropriate wine for a July sunset.

A white grape originating in Germany’s Rhineland, Riesling’s origins date back to at least the 15th century, with the first documented varietal sale taking place in 1435 when a German count bought six vines. Up until then, Riesling stayed more or less off the map (for Americans, at least), getting by as a cheap, sweet wine. But around the turn of the millennium, wine makers and consumers awoke to the possibilities of Riesling and the 2001 vintage put the wine back on the map outside of Europe. Since then, Riesling has taken on increased importance, prized for its complexity and versatility, and today ranks among the most expensive wines on the market.

Photo courtesy J. Star via Flickr/CC