Stylistically, Riesling can produce a sleek and tangy or soft and fruity table wine or a viscous, honeyed dessert wine. Riesling is usually characterized by fruit-forward apricot floral aromas, and rich full-bodied citrus flavors with a fresh off dry to sweet finish. Ripe pear, apricot, and floral notes continue through the palate of the wine. Riesling is a full flavored, elegant wine, making it ideal on its own or when paired with foods.

The most frequently encountered (but not exclusive) smell and/or flavor elements found in Riesling-based wines include:

Riesling Smell and/or Flavor Elements
Varietal Aromas/FlavorsGrowing & Processing Bouquets/Flavors
Floral: woodruff, rose petal, violetPetroleum: terpene, diesel, kerosene
Stone Fruits: apple, pear, peach, apricotMineral: flint, steel, gunemetal
Tropical Fruits: (not usually) 

Tasting Riesling—or any other kind of wine—involves more than just your sense of taste; it also involves sight, smell, and a certain kind of touch.

1. Look at the Color

Hold your glass up to the light. Color can vary substantially, even within the same varietal.
Reds range in color from pale red to dark brown. White wines appear golden, sometimes with elegant green tints.

2. Follow Your Nose

Swirl the wine in your glass; it will release a range of delightful aromas. Then take a quick whiff for an initial impression. Finally, smell more deeply and slowly. You might notice flowers or fruit, an earthy scent or an oaky aroma.
What aromas do you smell?

3. Consider the Taste

Take a sip of wine, and then let it rest in your mouth for a moment before swallowing. Now consider the taste. Do you taste fruits or spices? Does the taste go away quickly or linger? Is it tart or sweet?
Practice helps distinguish the different qualities of individual wines.

4. Feel for the Body

Take another sip of wine. Before swallowing, take in a little air. This will activate your senses further. Notice how the wine feels in your mouth. How does the touch affect your tongue and throat as you swallow? Was the feel of the wine lean or rich, velvety or smooth, silky or sticky?