5 Reasons to Love Riesling

Hello Prince Albert! Do you have a favorite grape varietal that always seems to satisfy and scratch your wine itch? I have several myself including the red grape Nebbiolo but when it comes to white wine, Riesling has my heart. What’s the big deal with Riesling and why should you give it a taste? Let’s look at a few reasons why Riesling deserves your attention.
Riesling (pronounced ree-sling, not rye-sling), is one of the most popular choices for sommeliers around the world; this is mainly due to the fact that it is so food friendly. This varietal is known for being crisp, bright, intense and extremely refreshing which keeps the palate clean and ready for delicious food pairings.
The higher acidity in Riesling cuts through fatty foods and lifts flavors like salt, umami, and sweetness while curbing or tempering less-desirable aspects such as bitterness. Try tasting some KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) with Riesling and you’ll discover why it makes one of the best low-brow pairings.
Speaking of acidity, this white wine packs a wallop! Often described as electric, zippy, buzzing, tingling or racy, Riesling is known for its high levels of sharp acidity since it is mainly grown in cold-climate regions. This acidity is not everyone’s “cup of tea”, since some wine drinkers prefer a mellow, soft wine which sits delicately on the palate however, for those with an affinity for all things sour, it can be incredibly enjoyable!
Yet another reason to love Riesling is the multiple versions that can be found from many corners of the planet. Most of the Riesling bottles in the German section will be semi-sweet to sweet but the style comes in every conceivable sweetness level including dry (like the Pewsey Vale tasted this week) to the ultimate dessert-wines. It is truly a wonder to taste an ultra-sweet wine which is perfectly balanced by mouth-watering acidity. You’ll find this balance in a high-quality German wine known as Trockenbeerenauslese. Yes, that is a real word and yes, I can pronounce it.
One thing most people don’t know about Riesling is that it ages very well due to the quality of the grapes and the lasting power of the acidity. This doesn’t mean that you can grab any bottle from the shelf and store it in your cellar. Most of the bottles in Prince Albert are meant for quick consumption and those looking for age-worthy Riesling will need to keep their eyes open for vintages (like the 2018 Pewsey Vale). Sweeter options will develop flavor of rich honey, honeycomb and caramelized nuts while drier versions will transform into layers of biscuit or toast, aged honey, toffee and earthy mushrooms. For this reason, consider giving a bottle of vintage Riesling as a gift.
Finally, if you’re a wine enthusiast that likes to explore grape varietals from around the world, Riesling can be found in many sections including USA, Canada, Germany, France and Australia. Each region offers something different; for instance, I find Riesling from Canada often carries lychee fruit or hints of orange blossom while German Riesling is crisp and clean with a definite slate/mineral component and intense citrus notes. The heat of the region plays an important role in the flavors found in the grape. Cold-climate options will be cleaner and more citrus-dominated while hotter areas will produce Riesling with fuller, tropical accents.
A bonus reason to taste and love Riesling is a unique wine found mainly in Canada and Germany: icewine! This luscious wine is thick, syrupy and indulgently rich but it is balanced harmoniously by high acidity. This beverage is so luxurious that only a few sips are needed at dessert time to perfectly compliment a creamy slice of New York cheesecake. Try this and the previously mentioned KFC pairing and I think you’ll agree, Riesling is just so easy to love. Here are my wine and beer picks of the week!
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley 1960 Block Riesling (2018 Vintage): (Eden Valley, Australia). Dry white, pale lemon color with shiny green hues. There is an excellent intensity and complex bouquet on this Australian white. On the nose is bright lemon/lime peel and fruit, riverbed rocks (wet rock), lemon meringue pie, mineral slate/granite, rubber bouncy ball, fresh garden hose, foliage, green apples, smoky petrol and savory biscuit or toast. On to the palate where intense flavors and high acidity greet the tastebuds: The flavor concentration is quite high with a mixture of fresh citrus notes (lemon/lime), Granny Smith apple, mineral slate (limestone and granite rocks), smoky hints of gasoline or petrol (in a good way), petrichor (fresh rain), rubber hose/tennis balls/fresh bouncy ball and a long finish of buzzing citrus, mineral and biscuit or toast. Some flavors are developing in this wine and I predict several years of aging potential. Flavors that will evolve in the wine are toast and honey. While the acidity is quite high, it is incredibly refreshing and delicious which keeps me coming back for sip upon sip. Medium-minus body. Will pair well with sushi, Asian dishes, pickles and a variety of fresh vegetable dishes. Outstanding! $65, 12.5% ABV
Prince Albert Brewing Company Rogue’s Red Ale: (Prince Albert, SK). Red ale with a reddish/brown color and a thick head of foam with reddish speckles. The nose is fresh and creamy with delicious scents of nutty caramel and mildly-roasted malt. The creamy style carries over onto the palate with plenty of smooth texture provided by the foamy head. Flavors of sweet malt with hints of nuts and caramel are apparent on the first sip and mid-palate while the finish brings in the delicious, roasted goodness. The beer is not overly heavy with a medium-body and the finish is medium in length. In my opinion, this is the best brew from PABCO and it pairs exceptionally well with their steak sandwich or beer-batter fish & chips. Stop by the pub to check out this red ale or pick up a six-pack from the off-sale shop. Great price and smooth, roasted flavors. Very good! $14/6 Pack, 5% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!