The white grape variety probably originates from Germany. There are more than 150 synonyms testifying to the great age and worldwide distribution of this vine in almost all wine-producing countries. The most important ones, grouped alphabetically by country, are Risling (Bulgaria); Edler Riesling, Gelber Riesling, Gräfenberger, Hochheimer, Johannisberger, Kleinriesling, Klingelberger, Rissling, Rüsseling, Weißer Riesling (Germany); Raisin du Rhin, Riesling Rhénan (France); Riesling Renano (Italy); Rajinski Riesling (former Yugoslavia); Rizling Rajnski (Croatia); Rislinoc (Moldova); Rheinriesling, Ritzling (also name of a vineyard), Weißer Riesling (Austria); Johannisberg, Johannisberg Riesling, Petit Rhin (Switzerland); Rizling Rýnsky (Slovakia); Renski Rizling (Slovenia); Lipka, Ryzlink Rýnský, Starovetski (Czech Republic); Beyaz Riesling (Turkey); Рислінг, Rislinok (Ukraine); Fehér Rajnai, Rajnai Rizling (Hungary); Rhine Riesling, White Riesling (California-USA).
According to DNA analyses carried out by the Austrian biologist Dr. Ferdinand Regner in 1998, Riesling originated from a presumably natural cross between (Vitis vinifera sylvestris x Traminer) x White Heunisch (Gouais Blanc). The small berries and frost hardiness come from the wild vine, the spicy notes from Traminer and the Heunisch brought late ripeness, robustness and acidity potential. It should be noted that although Gouais Blanc, the participation of Wildrebe and Traminer is not assured. According to DNA analyses, the rare variety Roter Riesling is not a precursor but a mutation of Weißer Riesling and the variety Blauer Riesling is descended from Traminer. Due to morphological similarities, the White Riesling must not be confused with the Crouchen, Menu Pineau, Pedro Ximénez, Räuschling or Sauvignonasse varieties. There is no genetic relationship with Welschriesling (Graševina), but its parentage is unknown. The prestigious name Riesling has often been used misleadingly and sometimes abusively worldwide: