When a salesperson recently suggested I try a bottle of Riesling, my response was, “Hmmm, I don’t usually drink Rieslings.” “Neither do I,” she commented.
So it got me thinking: why *do* I and many of my friends shy away from this incredibly versatile grape, which is produced in various forms in Germany, Austria, France, Australia, California and New York, to name just a few diverse regions across the globe.
I pulled out my copy of the Wine Bible, which is my go-to resource when I need to bone up, fast, about a particular grape variety. A few things I learned:
- Riesling is considered by many wine experts to be the most noble and unique white grape variety in the world
- Rieslings are often low in alcohol – sometimes as low as 8% vs. a chardonnay that typically clocks out at 13% alcohol or higher
- Riselings are picky about growing climate: they do best in cool places but even then they require an extra bit of TLC from a grower
- Riesling wines can range greatly in sugar content – from bone dry varieties (like the mineral-forward Rieslings hailing from France’s Alsace region) to ones that are sumptuous and sweet
So armed with that bit of knowledge, I sat down to try the 2011 Schmitt Söhne Riesling from Germany. First a bit about the winery. The Schmitt ancestors settled in the village of Longuich, along with Mosel River in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, more than 200 years ago and started managing vineyards and producing wine. Today, Schmitt Söhne is one of Germany’s largest and most successful wine exporters.
The particular Schmitt Söhne Riesling I sampled is part of their “blue bottle” series. It’s an Auslese wine, meaning it’s on the sweet side. I found this wine to be medium-bodied, with lovely aromas of apricots and honey. I think it would be best served very, very cold with spicy foods like Thai or rich cheeses. Great long finish that left me wanting more.
The Schmitt Söhne will be part of this weekend’s tasting lineup at Arlington’s Mystic Wine Shoppe, taking place on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. It’s an “All 2011” tasting roster that also features a J Lohr Pinot Noir, a Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sea Glass Riesling. Here’s an idea: pick up a bottle of the Sea Glass and the Schmitt Söhne and have yourself a mini Riesling tasting! As usual, all wines being sampled are discounted 10%.
I’m making a point to give Rieslings more of a go from now on. I bet I’ll learn a lot about the many faces of this “noble grape.”