Its sheer variety means it complements (almost) anything
Get ready for this -- Riesling isn’t just a sweet wine. Rather, it occupies every zone in the dry-to-sweet spectrum, which gives it a greater pairing potential. And there are a host of reasons that factor into why there are so many different types of Riesling. The timing of picking any grape matters, but the effect of waiting or harvesting early is way more dramatic with Riesling because it shows off its aromatics more so than another wine. Harvest early, and you get fruity aromatic tartness in a glass reminiscent of a citrus fruit like lemon or grapefruit. Wait a little bit longer and you get a semi-sweet wine, with hints of orchard fruits like apples or peaches. Even longer than that, and you can figure out the rest.
Where the grape was picked can result in a host of different flavors as well, and that’s true of any wine. But with Riesling it matters more, because it’s one of those wines that shows off its terroir better than most others because of its lightness due to the way it was fermented. So the sheer variety of Rieslings allows you to taste the result of different soils and climates all over the world. In its home country of Germany alone, there are 13 wine growing regions with varying soil types and climates that produce a wide range of Riesling styles -- and tastes -- due to this variety of terroir. Colder regions, for example, produce Riesling from grapes that ripen more slowly and are richer with their innate, fruity presence more apparent.