On the Friday before Christmas, I was on my home from work and looking forward to dinner and a movie with Julia. I had a pair of Rieslings chilling back at the house, but wasn't in the mood to cook. I was instead in the mood for something very specific: Vietnamese soup. She'd never had phở before, and I was looking forward to that particular culinary introduction as well as satisfying my own craving for some thinly sliced beef in hot broth with lots of other goodies.
We started off with gỏi cuốn and tương xào followed by phở gà for Julia and phở tái bò viên for me. (Or those soft rice wrapper rolls with shrimp and lettuce, chicken breast and chicken broth for her and sliced beef plus meatballs in my bowl.) The joy of phở is customization, and she kept hers light and simple while I went crazy with a little bit of every ingredient and some additional Sriracha sauce. Outstanding dinner, made even better by the Riesling. I tried the wines before the soup and once with the soup before I added additional heat. Both performed well at all stages of dinner.
2009 Clean Slate Riesling
$11, 10.5% abv.
Lightly sweet with with medium acidity. The nose has hints of peach and orange blossom, but nothing is terribly strong. It is an easy-going and extremely affordable white wine with a long, pleasant finish. Julia preferred this one, and I thought it was a great contrast to the bean sauce that came with the rolls.
2009 Weingut Hans Lang Riesling Dry Erste Gewächs
Hattenheim Wisselbrunnen, Rheingau
$50, 13% abv.
Erstes Gewächs means "first growth" and is a relatively new VDP classification denoting a quality dry wine from the top vineyards in Germany. Petrol and wet rocks with light green apple hints in the background. Low acidity, dry, with excellent balance. As it warmed, it developed some lovely earth tones and a wonderful depth. Long finish, highly recommended. My favorite of the two, though toward the end of the meal the Sriacha and jalapeño slice blocked out some of the more subtle tones in the wine.
This is by no means a new wine pairing idea, but it was really delicious and the wine contributed to making an already great dinner even better. Which is what wine is supposed to do.
Note: These wines were received as samples.