There must be good reasons why you, the wine lover, doesn’t drink wine made from particular grape varieties. But often this stubborn refusal to learn to love what some of us think of as utter deliciousness is sadly based on myth and outdated prejudice.
The most maligned of these dejected grape varieties is the exquisite, uplifting and tragically under-valued Riesling. Neither pronounced nor spelt Rizling, and definitely nothing to with Laski Rizling, god forbid, which is altogether a different animal and one best avoided. RIESLING on the other hand is regarded by most wine experts as one of the, if not indeed the, most delicious and rewarding of all white grapes. I join a long line of wine-writers who over the years have attempted to persuade wine-drinkers that Riesling really is what they want to be pouring in their glass. Based on current sales figures we are not being very successful. Jancis Robinson, the queen of wine, admits that despite her banging on about Riesling for the last 35 years it still needs all the support it can get. The wine trade simply doesn’t understand why the consumer is resisting Riesling’s charms. If it were because most people like less flavoursome wines then Sauvignon Blanc wouldn’t sell as well as it does. If it were because people fear it will be too sweet, then they wouldn’t be drinking Blush Zinfandels.
5 excellent reasons to drink a Riesling:
It’s likely to be lower in alcohol.
Rieslings are beautifully aromatic.
However sweet it may be, and many are not at all, the acidity is crisp to the point of zingy.
A very broad statement this, but if a winemaker is making a wine from Riesling he tends to be making a serious wine rather than plonk.
Very importantly, dry Rieslings are food-friendly. And versatile.
Now let’s dispel the myth – Riesling is not that sweet German wine of the 1970s. That was made from a far inferior variety or two and was dosed up with plenty of sugar. Those elegant flute-shaped bottles which most people steer clear of do indeed suggest a German wine, possibly even a Riesling, but it may not necessarily be sweet – 60% of German wine is Trocken (dry) or Halb-Trocken. But if it is a sweeter wine-style the bracing acidity will cope with it and balance it out. Look for wines which say Kabinett and Spätlese for a meduim sweet wine, Beerenauslese and Auslese for much sweeter. Look for wines with areas such as Mosel or Rheingau on the label and to be on the safe side, if you are still a bit nervous to buy unguided, try anything by Dr Loosen .
The steep slopes of the Mosel produce glorious examples of Riesling.
Alsace, once part of Germany but now firmly in the north-east of France, in the beautiful Vosges mountain area, produces its own distinctive and very elegant style of wines made from Riesling. These are wines to savour; they will refresh, entice and, with all fingers crossed, enchant you. They are clearly labelled by grape variety and, unless stated otherwise, they will be dry. I urge you to give them a go.
There are plantings of Riesling in Australia, most particularly in the Clare and Eden Valleys, in South Africa, New Zealand, Washington State, Austria and many other European and New World wine producing regions. Would they bother if this wasn’t truly a great grape variety?
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Photos courtesy of German Wines