Overwhelmed by German wine labels? Not sure how to figure out if a wine is going to be sweet or dry? We can help. Consider this your friendly introduction to the grapes, regions, and many reasons to love German wine.
'Riesling' on Serious Eats
On my lunch break, or as the day quiets down, I find myself trolling the interwebs for wine to buy. My method of choice: sorting by vintage. I set my search on under $20 or so, and have it show me the oldest bottles first. Sometimes it turns up treasures, like this awesome 2007 riesling for $13.99.
Pears, sweet-tart Riesling, and spicy ginger come together in a sorbet that's ripe and juicy with a clean, refreshing heat.
"I need to hear everyone singing," Peter Weiss said. "Because if I don't I'm going to think you're eating the grapes." I was on the west side of Keuka Lake hand-harvesting riesling at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Weiss, who is from Germany's famous Mosel region, is the winemaker responsible for riesling there.
Thanks to its cultural roots, Alsatian Riesling craves pork—pancetta, sausage, potatoes fried in pork, leg of pork, pork belly—but it gets along swimmingly with salty seafoods too.
A BYOB restaurant is a beautiful thing; it's also fun to get takeout and be able to open wine from your own collection or favorite wine shop. But if Chinese food is on the menu, which bottles should you pop? Depends on if you're eating Mapo tofu or Peking duck, dan dan noodles, dumplings, or delicate seafood preparations. We asked 14 sommeliers for their wine pairing advice. What's the most delicious wine to pair with Chinese food? Here's what they had to say.
A long, thin region on the eastern side of France, about a 2.5-hour train ride from Paris, Alsace lies on the border with Germany. The first thing you notice when you get there is how beautiful it is. Steep slopes, timbered houses, and clear light all define the landscape. Here are 14 delicious Alsatian wines to seek out.
A few tips on the types of white wine you should pick up and chill down before the big day.
It is one thing to drink wine at home, to open bottles at a dinner party, to remark on how delicious something is. It is one thing to read the long, hard-to-pronounce words on a label as you sip, and find a picture of that place online or in a book. It is another thing entirely to stand on that hard-to-pronounce hill and feel the wind pulling at your hair, feel the loose red rocks slipping under your sneakers.
When people ask me about why riesling seems so trendy right now, my first answer is that it's delicious, and my second answer is that it's delicious with food. There isn't heavy oak or heavy alcohol to stand in the way of a happy match, and the wine tends to have a delicious herbal and mineral character that makes it a particularly fantastic partner for seafood. Want to try for yourself? What's for dinner tonight?
We've been chatting a bunch lately about which wines age well, and which wines we should buy to drink ten or fifteen or twenty years down the road. Today, we're checking in with famed wine importer (and friend of the site) Terry Theise. He's known for bringing small-production wines from Germany, Austria, and the Champagne region of France to the US, so he knows a thing or two about how these bottles taste as time goes by.
A journey to Austria isn't complete without a monster schnitzel (daily), and at least one stop at Vienna's käsekrainer stands, but I visited mostly to taste wine, especially riesling and gruner veltliner. Here are my snapshots, along with snippets of winemaker-conversation, and a peek at some of the food we tried.
Here's the thing: making icewine is a crazy project. It's insane to leave your grapes on the vine deep into the winter. You have to shield them from birds and from mold and hope the weather is right for a hard freeze. It's crazy to get up in the middle of the night when it's minus-10 degrees and pick the frozen grapes, which will each yield just drops of juice.
This pisco based cocktail from Matthew Campbell of Clock Bar in San Francisco gets a seasonal sweetness from riesling and fresh pears.
Riesling nerds tend to sigh when you mention Willi Schaefer; the tiny production, the beautiful flavors, the few bottles they've sequestered away in long-term storage. There's an elegance and polish to this wine that you don't see at lower price levels, but the excitement is still there. A fennel and elderflower note reminded us a bit of pastis, with blue-green, mentholated eucalyptus-like flavor as it opens up.
It's as luscious as a dripping ripe peach, but as tart as one, too. It's a smooth, golden wine that's not cloying, with a delicate minerality that's woven through every sip, soft hints of slate and peach skin. If you're going upscale, serve with lobster ravioli in a light cream sauce. But the perfect pairing might be fried chicken and buttery biscuits.
These mineral-rich, low-alcohol wines are some of the most delicious whites we've ever tasted, especially in the $15 to $25 range. We tried about 45 bottles over the course of the past two months, paying attention to each wine and how it evolved in the glass. Want a cheat sheet? Here are a few of the highlights of our summer of riesling.
If you see it, buy it. The name of the winemaker is written quite small on this bottle (perhaps he's humble) but you can't miss the vineyard—Ürziger Würtzgarten, the 'spice garden' of the Mosel, known for its old vines on steep hills of slate and bright red sandstone. Wines from this vineyard tend to be spicy, and this one really captures that; it's roiling with flavor.
Have you ever tried wine from Michigan? This was my first, from Black Star Farms in Sutton Bay. (We've covered their cider before.) It's a fruit-driven riesling, with slightly perfumey flower-pollen notes and some nice slate on the finish.
This is such a pretty, glimmery wine. The flavor reminded us of baked apples stuffed with golden raisins and cinnamon sticks, balanced with a lemony tartness, a hint of Thai basil and juniper, and a very fine, silvery minerality. Young winemaker Matthias Meierer (son of Klaus Meierer) is a rising star of the Mosel. He's fresh out of school (he graduated from Geisenheim Viticulture and Enology University in 2005) and works a few days a week at Fritz Haag in addition to the time he spends at his family's 12.5 acre estate.