Riesling Reasonings


Riesling Reasonings

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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H ello, my dear Bar None readers, I hope you are all doing well and are safe.

Last month, we introduced our Grapevine club, with the grape variety of the month being the riesling. For those of you I did not get to hear from, what were your thoughts?

Riesling (pronounced 'rees-ling') is a light-skinned, aromatic German grape. Unquestionably, the riesling's ancestral home lies within the regions that trace the middle Rhine and the lower Mosel, two of Europe's great wine rivers. On the other side of the Rhine lies Alsace, once German but now part of France. Here, riesling is the most important wine grape variety in terms of both quantity and quality. Alsace riesling has its individual style and tends to be drier (less sweet) than those made in Germany. Today, the riesling grape comes from:

• Germany 56,000 acres: Pfalz, Mosel, Rheinhessen

• Australia 10,300 acres: Clare Valley, Eden Valley

• United States 9,000 acres: Washington State, California, Finger Lakes (10% of area)

• France 8,700 acres: Alsace

• Austria 4,600 acres: Eastern Wachau and Kremstal regions

• New Zealand 1,830 acres: Gisbourne, Waitaki Valley, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Central Otago, Nelson, Canterbury, Waipara Valley

What Does Riesling Taste Like?

Remember, when we do our tastings, we use three of our five senses: sight, smell, then taste. So, on appearance, we will see a beautiful golden colour. Then intense aromas begin to rise from the glass. Significant to the riesling is a distinct petrol or petroleum wax aroma, a natural compound called TDN (and this is not a bad aroma, so continue with the tasting exercise) that rises from the glass even when the wine is ice-cold. This aromatic wine offers primary fruit aromas of orchard fruits like nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and pear. Besides fruit, you'll often smell things like honeycomb, jasmine, or lime peel; on the palate, riesling has high acidity, similar to the levels in lemonade.

Riesling Wine Characteristics

• Fruit flavours (berries, fruit, citrus): Apricot, nectarine, peach, apple, pear, pineapple, lime, Meyer lemon

• Other aromas (herb, spice, flower, mineral, earth, other): Honey, honeycomb, beeswax, petrol, ginger, citrus blossom, rubber, diesel fuel

• Aged flavours: Diesel, petrol, lanolin

• Acidity: High

• Serving temperature: Fridge-cold 43 F (6C)

Riesling Food Pairing

Think Spice: Because of riesling's sweetness and acidity, it makes the perfect accompaniment to spicy food. Strong Indian and Asian spices are a perfect match with riesling. A classic pairing with riesling is spiced duck leg. You could also try a Jamaican spicy curried goat or jerk chicken or jerk pork.

Meat Pairings: Duck, pork, bacon, chicken, shrimp, crab. As rieslings have this significant petrol characteristic, any dish that is oily (fried foods) tends to pair very well with it. Why not try a glass of riesling the next time you have pizza, fried chicken or even a patty!

Spices and Herbs: Highly spiced and aromatic herbs including cayenne pepper, ginger, clove, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, madras curry, sichuan pepper, shallots, soy sauce, sesame, marjoram, basil, rice, vinegar, and teriyaki sauce.

Cheese Pairings: Try it with less aromatic and delicately flavoured soft cow's milk cheese and dried fruit.

Vegetables & Vegetarian Fare: Roasted vegetables and veggies with natural sweetness including coconut, red onion, bell pepper, eggplant, tempeh, squash, and carrot.

Our Grapevine Club Feedback:

Deidre-Ann: “I love a well-chilled glass of riesling. It is actually one of my favourite wines!”

Georgia: “Yes, finally… this sounds exciting. I love riesling”.

Nicollette: “The wine tastes different from the aroma… I did not like the smell, but I loved the taste.”

Continue to send your comments (see details below). Given that we may be at home for the next few days or weeks, instead of driving ourselves crazy, let us find a bottle of merlot. This should not be too difficult. Then get your wine glasses out with pen and paper as you get ready to share your thoughts. Until then, keep safe. Cheers!

Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month, I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety/vine of the month. The grapevine of the month is merlot. There should be a bottle somewhere lying around the house. Share with me feedback on what you thought about the wine and your overall wine experience.

Grapevine of the Month: Merlot

Readers' Feedback:

Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life. Seek them relentlessly. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG: @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer – The University of Technology, Jamaica

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