Riesling—the crowd pleaser
Among many U.S.
wine drinkers, "Riesling" means "syrupy-sweet German wine."
That's an unfortunate stereotype. While the grape is of German origin and the
most expensive Rieslings are dessert wines—the majority of decent Riesling out
there isn't going to pucker your mouth.
For our tasting, I decided to do a wine tasting for my
family. The cast
- My father and mother—neither of whom are big drinkers.
- My sister and brother-in-law—the usual drink of choice at their place is Michelob Ultra.
- The Sweet Partner in Crime.
- My 95 year old
grandmother who only drinks an occasional glass of Manischewitz.
They were faced with:
- Pierre Sparr 2006 Riesling (France) -- $11-14
- J & H.A. Strub 2005 Riesling Kabinett (Germany) -- $13-15
- Salmon Run 2006
Riesling (New York)
We started with the Sparr. My grandmother's initial
comment was "This is sour. I like sweet wines." My mom and sister
thought "bitter apple" was a good description. The most colorful
description was from my brother in law: "It's kind of got an odor in your
mouth. It tastes like…I'd say…rubbing alcohol smells. Not that I drink rubbing
alcohol or anything."
Rieslings like the Sparr from Alsace region are very dry. Most Alsatian
wines are in this style. French Rieslings improve with a little age, so this
wine would be different after two or three years. These wines are generally
much more acidic than other Rieslings. We still had some shrimp cocktail from
lunch, so thehe wine's acidity worked extremely well. Everyone liked it then. This
would be a great choice at a raw bar.
Next, the Salmon Run. My grandmother liked this
"better than the first one." My brother-in-law thought it was
"pleasant" and he said it "didn't have any nasty taste." My
mother said it was a wine you could easily "drink too much of on a sunny
day." My dad said only, "Fuller, fruitier." My sister said it
was "tangy, but sweet."
American Rieslings are not quite sweet enough to handle
heavy food, but are good everyday wines. If you're going to a party and don't
know what to bring, a New York Riesling is a safe bet.
Finally, the Strub. My grandmother indicated the
wine "smelled and tastes sweet." My brother in law said the body
tastes "like when you eat a bunch of sweet candy…you get that thick taste
in your mouth." My mother thought it would be too heavy for food. My
father reclined, saying little, contemplative. Perhaps the accumulated effect
of wine, cognac, and Kahlua got to him.
This wine would go very well with traditional Rhine-style
cooking. Spaetzle, beef & pork sausages, and sauerkraut would natural
pairings, as would anything spicy. As the SPinC put it: "Anything that
would go with beer would go with this."
So ends our tour of the big six. I hope you've enjoyed
this, picked up some good information, and you'll feel a little more
comfortable when faced with a wine list. I invite you to share of your own