Riesling is esteemed and admired the world around, except in America.
Riesling is esteemed and admired the world around, except in America. (Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune)

Wines like riesling often carry a whiff of petrol or paraffin. But what causes it?

That distinctive sniff of petrol (some call it paraffin) that's usually found in Alsatian whites or riesling is actually due to a chemical compound called TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene), which typically forms as a byproduct of aging wine. In balance with other elements, like the beguiling fruity notes and racy acidity in those wines, it is a much-loved characteristic of these wines.

-- Jessica Yadegaran, Staff