Tuesday, December 15, 2009
THE ARRIVAL OF RIESLING (FINALLY)
In Wine Enthusiast’s latest issue, magazine editor Adam Strum ranks his Top 10 Wine Stories of the year. In it, clocking in at #5, Riesling has finally begun a bit of a renaissance movement. The oft-maligned grape seems like it is finally getting its comeuppance. Mr. Strum points to itself along with scores of industry pros (like myself) who have been championing this grape variety for its near-perfection in food-pairing, and it nobility as one of the premier wine grapes of the world for its complexity and resilience.
I shock a lot of customers when I tell them I drink more Riesling at home than any red – including the Italian wines I am most fond of – and the looks on their faces are priceless when I say that to them. Why? WTF?! Should I be listening to you now?
Seriously though, I love spicy foods – Thai, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cajun – and Riesling is remarkably apt at balancing itself best with these foods. It is as if Riesling and spicy foods were made for each other, a celestial pairing dreamed up by a ravenous, enamored deity, a secret ambrosia that had been leaked out from a higher dominion to us less-worthy souls.
Rieslings from Donnhoff, Joh. Jos. Christoffel, Robert Weil and Dr. Loosen have populated my wine cellar for years, and my wife has become more infatuated with them than I have. Though I rarely have the energy to drink at home these days, when I do, I reach for a Riesling, because I will usually want to have a glass with dinner.
My recent travels to Washington state reinvigorated my passion for Riesling, with a reintroduction to the wines of Pacific Rim, along with amazing Rieslings from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Barnard Griffin, Milbrandt Vineyards, Columbia Winery, and the Poet’s Leap Riesling from Long Shadows. I am amazed at the level of balance achieved with this grape variety. And there is more out there than sweet Rieslings, to be sure. The terms trocken and halbtrocken should be household wine terms sooner than most other German winespeak, the “dry” and “half-dry” respectively. At least in our store, dry Rieslings are becoming extremely popular for their versatility and liveliness, as well as their ability to compliment a vast array of cuisines.
Whether it’s Riesling from Australia, New Zealand, Austria, the Alsace of France, Washington state or the Trockens of Germany, there are enumerative dry versions of this noble grape out there for you to try. Who knows? You may too become a believer.