Our office is in the midst of a renovation, so we've made it a mission to sample as much of our ever-growing wine collection to lighten the load before moving floors. With that in mind, we recently sampled all of the Rieslings on our shelf; these seven bottles, listed from dry to sweet, were our favorites. Keep reading to learn more about each.
This fruity concoction is light, refreshing, and easy to drink. The pureness of sweet strawberries is the defining flavor, but fresh lime juice provides a balancing tartness. Because the vodka is not overpowering, it's the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a hot day. If strawberries are in season at your farmers market, I strongly suggest you give this drink a try — trust me, you won't be disappointed! Read more to get the redhead in bed recipe.
Over Labor Day weekend, while everyone in America is plotting a grillout menu or basking on the beach, I'll be somewhere in the southern region of Germany tasting Riesling with the Wines of Germany. Of course, to get myself into the spirit, there's only one thing I could possibly be drinking: Riesling, the varietal that put Germany on the wine map.The Sugar HQ Riesling of the moment? The 2011 Armand Riesling Kabinett from Reichsrat von Buhl ($20). Despite its modest price tag, the wine hails from one of the most respected wineries in Germany, von Buhl. In our tasting, its green-tinged straw hue belied the dynamic aromas inside the glass — notes of peach, nectarine, vanilla, lemon-lime, and even pear. The aromas gave way to a zingy sip of white stone fruit with a lot of acidity and a lingering, well-balanced finish.
This wildly quaffable bottle isn't just ideal for a sendoff to Germany; it also makes for a pick-me-up at the end of a warm Summer night, preferably with a strong, creamy cheese or a light fruit dessert.
Photos: Nicole Perry
Truth be told, I could easily down a bottle of this wine solo (though I wouldn't recommend that), but I would wager that it would come to life when paired with spicy-sour-sweet Thai food or briny shellfish. I'll be sipping on mine while supping on fruits de la mer — specifically moules à la marinière.
Every so often, a wine article is so compelling that the reader simply must seek out a particular bottle, however obscure it may be. This recently happened while reading a piece by wine editor Ray Isle on a small but growing community of DIY winemakers who are challenging the traditional standards of wine production in America. I looked up from the pages of my Food & Wine magazine and vowed to run out and buy his recommendation, the 2008 Tatomer Vandenberg Riesling.Isle described the bottle as "one of the best Rieslings I'd had all year" — a bold statement for someone who tries a lot of wine. Nonetheless, that wasn't the real reason why I was sold on sampling the Tatomer. My real motivation? The wine, a California Central Coast Riesling, was the epitome of unusual. The Golden State isn't known for Riesling, especially not the warmer, sunnier Central Coast appellation. To top it off, this wine is named after the nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base — an unlikely inspiration for a wine if I've ever heard one.
By day, Graham Tatomer makes chardonnay and pinot noir as an assistant winemaker at a local winery, but he's a Riesling fiend at night — one who was fanatical enough to start making his own version. He makes only 700 cases of wine a year, and his wines, like this $24 Riesling, are incredibly priced. (To put that production number in perspective, E & J Gallo Winery makes 70 million cases annually.)
It's easy to taste the care put into each bottle. The Vandenberg is made in the style of an Alsatian: full-bodied without any sweetness. Its floral, pear-like bouquet drew me in, but what kept me drinking was the flinty minerality that bordered on savory and a creamy texture with a bracing green apple finish.
The bottle's floral, nectar-like scent resembles German Rieslings, but upon first sip, the Australian wine startled us with its light body, dry quality, and smooth finish. It remarkably had the essence of nectarine and honey without any of the sugary sweetness that is traditionally associated with the varietal. Everyone agreed it was a friendly, day-drinking wine, which probably explains why it was guzzled so quickly, and for $12, I'm sure our editors will be doing the same thing again. I think we've found our new Summer weekend wine — what's yours?
I turned to a couple of wine experts to find out why the Riesling grape works so well on its own but doesn't seem to play well with others. "Some grapes just don't seem to be as friendly to blending as others," explained Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine. "Riesling simply has a nuanced purity of expression that's easily stepped on or gets lost when combined with other grapes."
"It's also partly historical, too," he added, citing the fact that certain grapes, such as Pinot Noir, have stood alone over the years, while others, like Bordeaux, are blended wines by nature. Economics also play a part. Says Jardinière assistant wine director Jai Wilson: "It's probably more valuable to put Riesling in a bottle by itself than, say, wasting it in a big blend."
That said, it's not unheard of to come across a low-cost blend of Riesling with Chardonnay. Have you ever tasted Riesling in a wine with other grapes?
Source: Flickr User Michal Osmenda
Eco.Love hails from the country's South Island. Rather impressively, it focuses exclusively on grapes that have been sustainably farmed and produced in the country's first-ever carboNZero winery. The founders even purchase carbon credits to offset the company's CO2 emissions. But I was equally taken by their Riesling's layers of fruit: peach skins and petrol on the nose to start, followed by a puckery citrus and green apple palate, then a gooseberry finish.
As I dusted off more than a glass or two, I couldn't help but conjure up the ideal food pairing: lemon and pepper shrimp skewers, hot off the grill. At $17, I think I can fulfill that dream sometime very soon. Do you have a favorite earth-friendly wine?