14 July 2010

A Pair of Rieslings

Rieslings were among the first wines I ever purchased, because they were inexpensive and sweet. Years later, I had the opportunity to try more serious, well-aged Rieslings that were quite expensive and made for a transcendent tasting experience. But let's not forget that there's a broad middle range full of great, food-friendly wines that can appeal to a wide range of tastes and experience levels. Here's two I tried recently when Laura M. and her friend came over for dinner. (As a side note, Laura and I took German together in high school. No, we did not converse auf Deutsch during dinner.)

I served these convenient screwcap wines with two courses, but I left both bottles open throughout dinner. One a little sweeter, one a little drier, I felt it was easier to let the diners enjoy what they wanted.

First up was the slightly sweeter 2008 Fritz's Riesling from the Rheinhessen region of southwest Germany. $10, 10.5% abv. This wine is crisp with light citrus and lime peel aromas. Not too fruity, and not too sweet either. It's really well balanced. The wine is labeled with a distressed, punk font and simple design, and the additional marketing includes a little cartoon character, all part of the movement among some producers to put a more approachable face on German wines.

On the more serious side is the 2008 Kruger-Rumpf Münsterer Rheinberg Riesling Kabinett from the Nahe region, just west of the aforementioned Rheinhessen. $22, 8.5% abv. This wine is a classic Riesling, with aromas of wet granite, apricot nectar, green apple, and a touch of petrol. It goes down as smoothly as silk and has a very mild, delicate composition. If you've been drinking a lot of wines between 13-16% alcohol, it's a breath of fresh air to go back and try something like this that's under 9%. From a label perspective, this is definitely more traditional, and it bears the VDP eagle logo. For $22, this is an impressive bargain, and represents the style of German wine I like best.

The first course was linguine alle vongole, which is becoming a real favorite of mine, and with canned clams it's the kind of dish you can just slap together using odds and ends from the pantry. A little bite from the red pepper flakes makes a natural pairing with the Riesling. The second course (not pictured) was seared swordfish steaks with green beans. Neither dish was really German, but Riesling is so versatile and crowd-friendly that it's not difficult to find a decent match.

Big thanks to Laura M. for bringing homemade cupcakes topped with a lemon icing!

Note: These wines were received as samples.


Kevin Glowacki said...

All of a sudden, I'm really craving a great German Riesling. That Kabinett sounded like something right up my alley. I get all goo-goo when I read "apricot-nectar" in a tasting note and of course, the wet slate note will always be a big draw for me as well.

Benito said...


Whenever I taste a good Riesling, I smack myself upside the head and wonder why I don't seek out more good German wines. That Kruger-Rumpf really is a spectacular bargain--I hope you can find it in your area.


trickert said...

Love Riesling, the most underrated white, alongside other great mid-European whites (from Austria and Hungary) such as Gruner Veltliner, Gewurztraminer, and Furmint). Your review is spot on! By all means, review more of these kinds of whites if taste, dining options, and availability permit... :-)


Benito said...


I've certainly tried some great ones with you and your brothers, and just Monday I popped open a pair of Gruners (details in a future post).

One of these days I'll get to try a Swiss wine. It's a puzzle piece missing from my wine map of Europe. :)