Riesling – the Rodney Dangerfield of White Wines

Had yet another fabulous Riesling the other day, this one from B.C.  The ’08 Dry Riesling from Quail’s Gate (their best white wine, and not far behind their Foch as their best wine period!).  Gorgeous is the word for it…bone dry, but bang on varietally, with that touch of minerals/petrol you get on the nose, medium body and lovely, crisp citrus fruit.  And still under $17!

I don’t know why people in North America don’t drink more Rieslings, because they have so much going for them. They go with an incredible variety of food (including hot and spicy dishes like Thai or Indian curries); have low alcohol levels (some of the German ones are below 8%!) and can even last for decades (a real rarity for white wines).

Perhaps one reason is that people have this stereotype in mind when it comes to Riesling; you know, those awful German wines we all tried and/or saw commercials for growing up (remember Black Tower and the beautiful blond on television promoting Hochtaler?). No doubt about it, those were truly awful wines.

The other might be that Rieslings often do finish with a touch of sweetness, even the so-called “dry” versions. But even that is a bit ironic, as research has shown that many people actually like a bit of sweetness in their wines.

But perhaps the biggest reason is the mind-boggling — and often unpronounceable — names of German Rieslings.  Due to a combination of the wine laws, regions and just the German language, you often get a four or five word name for a wine that is quite intimidating even for wine geeks — Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spatlese by Selbach Oster, anyone ? (It’s a great wine, by the way).

But whatever the reason, don’t let it stop you from trying a Riesling or two, particularly as Spring approaches and the weather starts to get warmer. And not just from Germany — the Alsace region of France makes some beauties, as does the U.S. (Washington State), Australia (these ones are bone dry) and, increasingly, B.C. (where some feel it may be the province’s best white grape, given our climate is so similar to that of the wine growing areas in Germany).

So when the sun looks enticing, buy a couple, chill them down and try a glass or two sitting in your lawn chair. I think you will be pleasantly surprised…and will give Rieslings the “respect” they deserve!




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