International Riesling Foundation

Final Proposal on Riesling Sugar Guidelines: The Scale

It is proposed that the International Riesling Foundation supports four sweetness categories for Riesling, as set forth below, using no numbers to designate the various categories. They will be referenced only by the terms we used for each of the four categories. Wineries are encouraged to use these categories on all their literature and labeling as well as verbally as a guide for wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs and consumers.

In the following list, sugar and acid are listed in grams per liter.

The proposal is as follows:

Dry. All wines carrying this designation will have a sugar-to-acid ratio not exceeding 1.0. For example, a wine with 6.8 grams of sugar and 7.5 grams of acidity would be in the same category as a wine with 8.1 grams of sugar and 9.0 grams of acid. Similarly, a wine with 12 grams of sugar and 12 grams of acid would be classified as dry.

Notice also that wines that are totally or “near-totally” dry (such as 4 grams per liter) will have a much lower ratio. For instance, a wine with only 3 grams of sugar and a total acidity of 6 grams per liter will have a ratio of .5, and clearly the wine is dry.)

As to pH: we assume that the range of pHs for most Rieslings is between 2.9 and 3.4. So 3.1 is the “base” pH with which most wine makers will be working. So if the pH of wine is 3.1 or 3.2, it remains in this dry category. But if the pH is 3.3 or 3.4, it moves up to Medium Dry. (And if the pH is 3.5 or higher, the wine maker may wish to move the wine to Medium Sweet.)

Medium Dry. Here the ratio is 1.0 to 2.0 acid to sugar. Example: a wine with 7.5 grams of acid could have a maximum sugar level of 15.0 grams. And if the pH is above 3.3, it moves to Medium Sweet, and if the pH is as low as 2.9 or lower, the wine moves to Dry.

Medium Sweet. The ratio here is 2.1 to 4.0 acid to sugar. Example: a wine with 7.5 grams of acid could have a maximum sugar level of 30 grams. And again, the same pH factor applies as a level two wine: if the pH rises to 3.3, you move up to Dessert, and if the pH drops to 2.9 you move to Medium Dry. And if the pH is 2.8 or below (highly unlikely), the wine could be called Dry.

Sweet. Ratio above 4.1, but using the pH adjustment, a sweeter wine with a ratio of, say, 4.4 might actually be moved to Medium Sweet if the pH is significantly lower.

It is vital that all IRF members adhere to the same terminology so when we speak to Riesling consumers about what is a dry wine and what is a medium dry wine, we are all speaking the same language.

This guideline should assist restaurants in that servers can verbally tell patrons what style of wine they will be getting. The more it is used, the more the terminology will be understood.

It is highly recommended that this guideline be used in conjunction with the IRF’s approved graphic interpretation, called The Taste Profile, that could be used on back labels, case cards, shelf-talkers, and so forth. For this proposal to have the greatest impact, the terms we offer above for the four levels of sweetness remain unchanged.

–Dan Berger

International Riesling Foundation

Organization: International Riesling Foundation

Date Formed: November 15, 2007 – A Washington State Non-Profit Corporation

Tax Status: Application for Federal Tax Exempt Status under IRS Code 501(c-3)

Fed ID#: 26-1441290

Contact: Jim Trezise –, 585-394-3620, ext. 203

Vision: Riesling wines will be recognized and demanded internationally as one of the world’s most noble wines due to their diversity of styles, regional character, consistent quality, and compatibility with food.

Mission: To increase awareness, understanding, trial and sales of Riesling wines through a comprehensive, integrated system of industry cooperation, research, trade education, and consumer communication.

Officers: Interim Officers (January 31, 2008 – December 31, 2008)

Jim Trezise, President New York Wine & Grape Foundation, New York
Nicolas Quille, Vice President Pacific Rim Winery, Washington
Dan Berger, Vice President Wine Writer & Columnist, California
Ed O’Keefe III, Secretary Chateau Grand Traverse, Michigan
Coke Roth, Treasurer Wine Attorney, Washington State


Maurice Barthelmé, Domaine Albert Mann, Alsace

Jim Bernau, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon
Jim Caudill, Brown-Forman, Global
Paul Cluver, Cluver Winery, South Africa
Pete Downs, Jackson Family Wines, California
Patrick Fegan, Chicago Wine School
Nick Ferrante, Ferrante Winery, Ohio
Jim Finkle, Constellation Brands, Global
Judy Finn, Neudorf Vineyards, New Zealand
Jeffrey Grosset, Grosset Wines, Australia
Scott Harvey, Scott Harvey Wines, California
Bernard Hickin, Orlando-Wyndham Group, Pernod Ricard, Australia
Richard Kannemacher, Alsace Winery Association, France
Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Winery, California
Bob Madill, Sheldrake Point Vineyards, New York
Harry McWatters, Sumac Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
Ed O’Keefe III, Chateau Grand Traverse, Michigan
Len Pennachetti, Cave Spring Winery, Ontario, Canada
Harry Peterson-Nedry, Chehalem Winery, Oregon
Nicolas Quille, Pacific Rim Winery, Washington
Coke Roth, Coke Roth Law, Washington
Bruce Schneider, Wines of Germany
Peter M.F. Sichel, Consultant,
Wendy Stuckey, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington
Jim Trezise, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, New York
Nik Weis, St Urbanhof, Germany
Joshua Wesson, Best Cellars, New York
Christian Witte, Schloss Johannisberg, Germany


Riesling Wine Producers
Wine Trade Associations
Wine Media Representative
Wine Wholesalers
Wine Retailers


United States – CA, MI, NY, OR, WA
International – Austria, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany,
France, South Africa

Proposed Web: (not yet active; planned for late September 2008)


Roth Coleman, Attorneys at Law
8836 Gage Blvd, Suite 204-A, Kennewick, Washington, 99336
Phone: 509.783.0220 Fax: 509.783.0411

International Riesling Foundation announces "Riesling Taste Profile"

The International Riesling Foundation (IRF) has completed a “Riesling Taste Profile” designed to make it easier for consumers to predict the taste they can expect from a particular bottle of Riesling.

The system involves voluntary technical guidelines for wine makers and winery owners in describing their wines for consumers; and four graphic options that may be used on a back label, point-of-sale materials, and elsewhere. Read more about the Riesling Taste Profile…

Right click and choose “save as” to download


Jim Trezise, (for general information about the IRF)

Dan Berger, (for information about the Riesling Taste Scale)

IRF announces "Riesling Taste Profile" Part II

Riesling is the fastest growing white wine in the United States, and second only to Pinot Noir of any wine; yet market research has shown that many consumers think of Riesling only as “a sweet white wine” despite the wide range of tastes it can represent.

“Riesling may be made in many styles from bone dry to sweet, and this versatility can be both a strength and a weakness,” said California wine journalist Dan Berger who spearheaded the IRF project in consultation with many Riesling wine makers. “Riesling’s many styles can fit almost any taste preference, but consumers may be put off if they are expecting one taste and get another. The taste profile will enhance Riesling’s strength by letting consumers know the basic taste before they open or even buy the bottle.”

To help wine makers consider which terms to use for various wines, the committee developed a technical chart of parameters involving the interplay of sugar, acid, and pH which helps determine the probable taste profile of a particular wine.

Another key step in the project was to identify appropriate terms for describing the relative dryness or sweetness of the wine. After extensive deliberations, the four categories selected are: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet. (The technical guidelines for those categories are described below.)

“It is important to understand that these are simply recommended guidelines which we think may be helpful, but the program is entirely voluntary,” said Berger. “We hope that over time many Riesling producers will use the system because it will help consumers, and therefore help the wineries as well.”

The next step was to develop a simple graphic design showing the four levels from Dry to Sweet, and a simple indication of where a particular wine falls. This design may be used on back labels, merchandising materials, web sites and elsewhere. The goal is to have a common, simple, consumer-friendly system for identifying Riesling tastes.

With substantial input from IRF Board members who are Riesling producers, New York-based artist Book Marshall developed four options (shown below) which may be used by wineries, depending on their back label space and design. The preferred design is #1, which includes the words, “This Riesling is…” above the bar, and “International Riesling Foundation” with a logo below it.

“This is a very important project, and we’re grateful to Dan Berger and others who have spent many hours on this,” said Jim Trezise, the current President of the IRF. “With Riesling’s surging popularity, making this versatile wine more understandable for consumers could accelerate its growth.”

The Riesling Taste Profile project was first announced publicly on July 27 at the Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington to Riesling producers from around the world. Based on market research conducted by Wine Opinions of Napa Valley, as well as feedback from industry members, the IRF amended the taste profile from five to four levels for greater clarity.

The Riesling Taste Profile was developed in time to be available for use by northern hemisphere wineries on wines from the 2008 vintage. Specific guidelines for use by wineries will be available in the near future.

The IRF’s next major project is to create a web site portal to guide consumers to the best information on Riesling. In addition, several Riesling presentations are being planned in various markets.

A small luncheon meeting of industry leaders at the first Riesling Rendezvous in June 2007 created the concept for the IRF, which was officially formed in November and now includes a Board of Directors of more than 30 major Riesling producers from around the world.

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.” At this time, the IRF is based entirely on voluntary efforts by its Board members.