Why Riesling is an Amazing Food Wine
Dallas Morning News
March 24, 2015
by Tina Danze
When our wine panel’s sommeliers discuss versatile, food-friendly wines, Riesling comes up immediately. Almost as quickly comes a lament that many of their customers ignore this varietal, based on a misconception that all rieslings are cloyingly sweet.
Rieslings actually come in a range of styles: from dry and steely, to the supersweet dessert style. Between those extremes, you’ll find food-friendly wines that balance ripe fruit with good acidity.
This month, the wine panel tasted 21 Rieslings from four countries, looking for wines to pair with a variety of savory foods. Prices ranged from just under $10 to $30; 14 of them were under $20.
The six we chose are fruity styles that show good acidity, faint to mild sweetness and, in several cases, mineral notes.
Now before you dismiss any Riesling that shows even a whisper of sweetness, hear us out: We aren’t talking about trading your favorite Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc for Riesling as an aperitif. We’re suggesting that you give our riesling picks a go with dishes that they enhance and vice versa.
Rieslings with a touch of fruity sweetness are perfect partners for many foods: spicy Indian, Thai, Chinese or Mexican cuisine; sweet and spicy dishes; salty foods; charcuterie; pork dishes; bratwurst; crab salad; brunch dishes — the list goes on.
Even if you don’t sip off-dry rieslings solo, you may enjoy how they meld with many dishes.
We tasted with a table full of savory nibbles: potato chips, spicy peanuts, cheeses, charcuterie, salmon dip and more.
Our tasting turned up some surprises. Of our top six rieslings, five were under $15; the six wines in the $21 to $30 range that we tried didn’t wow us. As for the panel favorite, we were so torn that we picked two.
Now you be the judge. Take advantage of a good deal and buy several of our riesling picks. Then put them to the test with your favorite fiery dishes, charcuterie or salty snacks — even potato chips. (Salt and pepper chips hit the mark with many of the wines.)
We’ve recommended some dishes for each wine, but don’t limit yourself. At these prices, you can afford to experiment.
Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.
Find the best food-friendly rieslings under $30
No specific food pairing, but throughout the tasting we snacked on salt-and-pepper potato chips, thinly sliced salami and porchetta, mild cheeses, and crackers with rich, creamy dips.
Paul Botamer, sommelier and wine director at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Chad Houser, executive director, Café Momentum
Courtney Luscher, co-owner and general manager, the Grape
Jennifer Uygur, co-owner and wine director, Lucia restaurant
Cathy Barber, Taste editor
Sarah Blaskovich, guidelive.com
Tina Danze, freelance writer
Frisk Prickly Riesling, 2013, Australia
$9.49; Goody Goody (Oak Lawn, Greenville Avenue and Harry Hines); Pogo’s; select Sigel’s; select Whole Foods Market stores; and McKinney Wine Merchant
You may not associate Riesling with Australia, but this one comes from an Australian region well-suited to the grape: the mineral-rich foothills of the Victorian Alps. This off-dry wine is aptly named for its slightly spritzy character. “It’s got great acidity, effervescence and fresh fruit,” Botamer said. He liked the wine’s green-apple, lime and lemon curd flavors. “The wine has such a fresh taste, and the frizzante character is cool,” Luscher said. Botamer added that the wine’s effervescence “helps carry the sweetness, keeping it from being cloying.” Pair this wine with spicy Asian food or curry dishes.