Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Poor Misunderstood Riesling


After a recent visit from Riesling Meister Johannes Selbach, the question was...how to explain the joys of Riesling, probably the most misunderstood wine in the U.S? Riesling is not always sweet. It is probably one of the most food-friendly wines out there. It is very ageable. And in the hands of a winemaker like Herr Selbach it is delectable.

Why are the labels so damn hard to understand? Johannes is dismissive of the troubles Americans have with the multi-syllabic brain teasers. "Look here is the village. Here is the quality. What more do you need to know?" Thanks. Really you have to know the winery to know what's in the bottle. Selbach-Oster has a range of wines from a dry Kabinett to a full on dessert wine. And the prices are also diverse. Basically look for Rieslings from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer area. Kabinett will be the most dry, followed by Spatlese. Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese are all sweet with the last being the most expensive and ├╝ber sweet.

One of the classic descriptors of a good Riesling is "petroleum". But in a good way. Think of Vaseline but somehow associate that with fond childhood memories or something. The point is good Riesling has aromas that are weird but once you get past that and taste the wine it is heavenly. So give it a chance. And don't buy the cheap stuff.