2011 新年快乐 ! This week we celebrate Chinese New Year and enter the Year of the Rabbit. In honor of the holiday, here's a rabbit-themed wine, and it doesn't hurt that Riesling can pair well with spicier Chinese food (at least, the Americanized Chinese food we mostly consume over here).
I've tried several of the Octavin boxed wines by this point, and I still like the philosophy behind it. Rather than just putting cheap juice in a plastic bag, several of the wines are also available in bottle form. We're still talking mostly table wines here--not something meant for long term aging, but great quality for the price, and I'd be comfortable serving them at a party.
2009 R. Müller Riesling
$24/3L box, 9.5% abv.
Landwein Rhein Region
I had an Albrecht Dürer rabbit staring at me from the wood-paneled wall of my childhood living room. The marketing for this box refers to it as "Rabbit Riesling" or "Bunny Wine". Sounds a little cute, but as always I applaud making German wines more approachable and easier to recommend. A similar attempt that I think missed the mark a bit is the Dr. Peter Poontinger Riesling, so named after the German word for a jackalope. (Somewhere around here I've got a Wyoming State Hunting License that permits me to hunt the mythical creature.)
Nose of apple and honey with just a touch of lemon peel. Light apple flavors, good balance of acidity, and light sweetness. It's a good compromise for a party, picnic, or other casual event--sweet enough to appeal to the white zin crowd, but dry enough that you can enjoy a glass or two without feeling sugar build up on your teeth. Having had some of it over the course of a week and with some friends, it's as easy drinking and refreshing as lemonade. The low alcohol content helps tremendously.
I tried it with a variety of dishes--salads, pulled pork, eggs, etc., but while nosing around the kitchen at Paul's I discovered that I had all the ingredients necessary to make Currywurst, a beloved street food from Germany. The dish emerged after WWII, when American servicemen were eating steaks slathered in ketchup (blasphemy!), and the much poorer Germans made do with putting ketchup on their sausages. Over time, the sauce was improved with curry powder, and traditionally the dish is served with either fries or bread, all placed in a little paper dish with a tiny plastic fork or pick stuck in the sausage. If you want to learn more, you can always visit the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin.
I used the Currywurst sauce recipe from Saveur magazine, and used kielbasa for the sausage. (Knockwurst or Bratwurst would have been more authentic, but I love a good kielbasa.) I cut back on the onions and sugar in the recipe by half, and the result is a spicy curry sauce that is curiously recognizable if you've spent much time at Indian lunch buffets. I served it warm over the sliced sausage, and it held up well enough for days after. I assume it would be great on all sorts of things, and I've considered making and freezing a larger batch in the future.
Note: This wine was received as a sample.