Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: December 30, 2022

5 Best Affordable Riesling Wines

If you love white wine, a Riesling is hard to beat, offering both dryness and sweetness in a single bottle. These are the 5 best cheap Rieslings around according to Wine Turtle!

Riesling Wines 2

If you can’t resist a crisp white wine with a touch of sweetness, a Riesling could be the perfect tipple for you.

A quality white with an impeccable pedigree, Riesling has a number of features which really set it apart from other white wines.

In today's guide, we recommend the 5 most affordable quality Riesling wines that we've ever tasted. 

Put simply, these are the best Riesling wines for less than $20.

A Quick Intro to Riesling

The aromatic floral bouquet of Riesling is a signature feature, along with the high levels of acidity and a crisp, fresh taste. 

Think peaches, pears and apricots combined with the slight tartness of apples and you’ll be along the right lines.

Unlike many other wines, Riesling vary significantly depending on where they’re grown. They be very dry or quite sweet so it’s important to pay close attention when you’re ordering.

If the Riesling comes from either Germany or California, it will probably be sweet. More helpful manufacturers include a sweetness scale on the reverse of the bottle, but this isn’t yet universal.

napa valley

However, it is possible to have a dry Riesling from Germany or California: look for the word “Trocken” or “dry” on the bottle. “Halbtrocken” and “feinherb” are two alternative descriptions you might spot; these mean the wine is off-dry.

It’s important not to mix “Trocken” up with “Trockenbeerenauslese” because the latter is a super-sweet variety, and not dry at all.

Rieslings from Washington State, Austria, the Alsace region in France and the Finger Lakes near New York are all usually dry. You won’t find anything printed on the bottle as they’re expected to be a dry Riesling.

Quite aside from the different types available, Riesling is a remarkably versatile wine. The Riesling grape can be enjoyed both young and old, dry or sweet, still or sparkling. Furthermore, it’s one of the very few white wines that improves with age.

Unlike reds, white wines are usually best drunk soon after they’re bottled but Riesling doesn’t conform to this expectation. Rieslings have been tested after being in the bottle for more than a century and rather than degrading, the flavor actually improves.

There is an accompanying smell which is rather off-putting, but sommeliers believe that it’s the compounds that emanate this stench that are responsible for the high quality of the wine.

The variety in Riesling mean that they pair well with a range of different dishes. The sweeter bottles are ideal as an accompaniment to a fruity dessert, adding a refreshing element.

Riesling is also the perfect partner to spicy food, creating an exquisite explosion on the palate.

riesling wine

Our Recommended Cheap Riesling Wines

These are the amazing but affordable Riesling wines that we recommend over all others.

1) Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015

Variety: Semi-dry

Region: Washington

Alcohol level: 12%

Kung Fu Girl Riesling wine

Just once glance at the average scores of 90 from official wine reviewers reveals that this is a bottle that’s extremely well thought of. 

Medium-bodied and full of citrus flavors, this 2015 Riesling from Charles Smith delivers white peach, lime leaf, honeysuckle, jasmine and lychee to create a characteristically aromatic combination. The end result is clean and refreshing, but with a crispness that’s distinctive.

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015 wine

Being from the Ancient Lakes in Washington, this isn’t a sweet wine but it’s an off-dry finish that lingers. The acid offers a nice balance and there’s a purity to this vintage that really cranks it up a level.

Although technically Rieslings can keep for a long time, experts suggest drinking it within a year.

The vineyard that produced these grapes is committed to using sustainable practices. The rows of vines planted in 1998 sit on top of cliffs above the Columbia River which exerts a cooler influence over the growing conditions.

In 2015, there was an early bud break which developed into a long and warm summer. The conditions ripened the crop to perfection, giving grapes which are low in alcohol with bright acidity and fully rounded flavor.

What we think: The most expensive wine on our list but still extremely affordable, this wine has a fun kick. Treat yourself on special occasions rather than drinking every day.

Read our full Kung Fu Girl Riesling review.

2) Zind-Humbrecht Riesling 2015

Variety: Dry

Region: Alsace, France

Alcohol level: 12.5%

Coming from the Alsace region of France it’s no surprise that this is a dry Riesling, but the tiny touch of residual sweetness is a delicious complement.

The flavors that unfurl are complex and reveal themselves in layers in every mouthful.

Zind-Humbrecht Riesling 2015 2

A zesty start with grapefruit tones swirls around the palate with the first sip, which then develops into full, ripe flavors of peach and pear, offset by smoke and quince. This combination provides a background spice to the clean citrus flavors which are so typical of a Riesling.

Carbon dioxide bounces around the palate giving a good fizz which is fun. The finish is undeniably lemony with enduring fruitiness leaving a longing for the next mouthful.

The price of this Riesling is quite a bit higher than the Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl, but the quality shows in score of 93. This French white wine will happily remain at its best until 2035 - if you can keep your hands off it for that long.

The vines for this particular vintage were planted in 1994 on average, on a steep hillside facing south to west.

A limestone vineyard with a low yield, the harvesting of such tall vines can be challenging. In 2015, the conditions combined to create a Riesling that was wonderfully dry.

What we think: This is one of the more expensive Rieslings but still affordable enough for a treat. Complex, delicious and refreshing, the Zind-Humbrecht is worth the extra dollars.

Got a bit more money available in your budget? Don't miss our guide to the very best Rieslings where money isn't a concern.

3) Weingut Winter Dittelsheim Riesling

Variety: Dry (Trocken)

Region: Rheinhessen, Germany

Alcohol level: 12.5%

Wonderful citrus flavors play over each other in the opening impressions of this Riesling with lime and lemon fusing with green apple and a hint of baking spice.

More fruitiness develops on the palate with a vigorous degree of acidity and a hint of sweetness. The finish is crisp and tart with a surprise reappearance of the baking spice.

Weingut Winter Dittelsheim Riesling

This German white wine pairs particularly well with fish and shellfish dishes as well as classic cuisine. The subtle sweetness also provides a good background for spicy pepper dishes with white meat such as turkey tacos.

The Rheinhessen region is one of the largest for wine-producing in Germany, and the Weingut Winter vineyards are located right in the center. The family winery has been growing in the limey soils for generations, situated just outside the village of Dittelsheim.

The winery became a member of the prestigious German Prädikatsweingüter, a body which is internationally recognized for quality, several years ago. The lime and clay soils in tandem with the microclimate of the region deliver an incredible array of flavors in every glass.

The harvesting for the 2015 vintage began at sunrise, with the fruit stretched out for a number of hours on the mush to gather the maximum flavor from the skins. Following fermentation, the process is finished by aging the wine in stainless steel tanks.

What we think: This is another extremely well-priced Riesling but the economy isn’t reflected in the quality. Clean and crisp with a refreshing yet dry finish, this white wine is a bargain pick.

4) Eroica Gold Riesling 2013

Variety: Dry

Region: Washington

Alcohol level: 11%

Scoring between 89 and 93 by wine experts, the Eroica Gold Riesling 2013 is an excellent white wine with a mid-range price.

Eroica Gold Riesling 2013

This winery is really something special, bringing together the traditions of the old world in Germany with the modern wine-production of Washington. The fusion of two incredible producers to create the Eroica brand is what sets this Riesling apart.

In 2013 the bud break was early enough to break all records, leading to a summer that was consistently warm, the very best conditions for optimum ripening of the vines.

A trio of vineyards were used for this vintage: one in Yakima Valley, one on the Royal Slope and a third next to the Columbia River.

Harvest took place between August and November with the collection completed at night in cool conditions to ensure the very best fruit. Pressing took place instantly after harvest followed by a gentle fermentation which was slowed with yeast to produce more rounded fruit flavors.

This process of careful harvest and fermentation has created a white wine with pronounced fruity flavors which delivers orange marmalade notes. Juicy peach and the ripest of pears are paired with a deliberate background of botrytis for an earthier touch.

Alongside the fleshy flavors of the fruit lies saffron and orange peel, and it’s this which is used to add greater depth rather than relying on sweetness.

Finishing clean, this Riesling works very well with Thai cuisine and curries, as well as fish.

What we think: If you want to avoid a Riesling with too much sweetness but still yearn for a complex layered flavor, this is a top pick. The price isn’t too bad either, sat slap bang in the middle of the others on this list.

5) McGuigan Shortlist Eden Valley Riesling 2017

Variety: Dry

Region: Eden Valley, Australia

Alcohol: 12.5%

This winery has won the coveted International Winemaker of the Year Award no less than four times, an achievement that places McGuigan firmly on the world stage.

They have also won an impressive array of other awards, including many for the Riesling they have produced over the years.

McGuigan Shortlist Eden Valley Riesling 2017 2

The grapes for their 2017 Riesling were grown in a vineyard in Eden Valley, an area within the southern Australian Barossa zone. The elevation of this site together with the cooler climate helps to create fruit which offer an intense flavor.

The 2017 Riesling, along with other Riesling vintages grown on this site are often said to be comparable to some of the top Riesling produced in Germany. This quality is borne out by the exceptional score of 93 handed out by wine critics.

A straw color with a green tinge, this Riesling offers aromas of jasmine with grapefruit notes that hit the front of the palate. This develops into a zesty mix of lime and green apple backed by slate, a classic Riesling presentation.

The finish delivers more minerals as well as a healthy shot of acid, leaving the mouth feeling clean and alive. Serve with delicate seafood flavors, oysters and shellfish for maximum appreciation. The quality of this Riesling allows it to be cellared for the medium to long term.

What we think: Another Riesling which is priced in the center, it’s hard to ignore the high scores and armfuls of awards this white wine has won.

Reaching Your Choice

The above collection of affordable Riesling offer a sublime choice which is almost impossible to rank. All have scored well from wine critics and have proven to be white wines with real staying power.

For sheer economy, the Weingut Winter Dittelsheim Riesling is impossible to beat, offering incredible value with an exquisite flavor. The only downside is that it won’t keep for too long.

However, when it comes to very affordable Riesling wine taking all factors into account it has to be the McGuigan.

From an award-winning winery and with a vintage that is rocketing in popularity, you can either drink this beauty now or keep it for as long as you fancy.

We suspect you won’t be able to resist it for too long and it’s an affordable yet stunning accompaniment to a delicious seafood dinner.

About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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