If you ask a sommelier to name her favorite grape, there’s a good chance she’ll say Riesling.
If you’re surprised, then it’s probably because you associate Riesling with the sweet, simple German wines of yesteryear, like Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch, and Piesporter. These wines were — and still are — affordable and approachable. And they’ll always have fans. But they do a disservice to true Riesling.
Fortunately, that could soon change. New York City sommelier and restaurateur Paul Grieco is on a mission to make sure that Americans give Riesling the respect it deserves.
Grieco’s crusade began in 2008, when he announced a plan to focus on Riesling all summer long at Terroir Wine Bar in New York City’s East Village.
In a “single-minded attempt to get guests to at least try this noble grape,” Grieco offered only Riesling as his by-the-glass white wine offering. As he tells it, “the staff was incredulous and the guests suspect, but with 30 different glass pours ... we set upon a massive inspirational and educational scheme that was challenging and fun.”
His campaign quickly took off.
In 2010, 14 wine bars in New York joined together to create a Riesling Pub Crawl; several well-known Riesling producers visited the city; and Grieco organized a concert where only Riesling was served. Last year, about 200 bars and restaurants across the country took part by hosting events, offering specials, and agreeing to spread the gospel of Riesling.
This summer, the “Summer of Riesling” attracted nearly 500 participants. (To see if anyone is participating in your community, head to www.SummerOfRiesling.com.)
Misconceptions still abound, but consumers are starting to recognize that Riesling is a serious grape. Over the past several years, Riesling sales have steadily risen. And sommeliers are finding that consumers are extremely receptive to the grape.
Riesling’s greatest strength is its versatility.
First, there’s its geographical diversity.
While its ancestral home is Germany, where Riesling has been grown in the Rhine and Mosel Valleys since the 14th century, it’s also the most planted grape in the Alsace region of France. The grape is also experiencing a resurgence in the United States, especially in New York’s Finger Lakes. And there are sizeable plantings of Riesling in Austria, New Zealand, and Australia.
There’s also its sweetness.
Some Rieslings are syrupy and lusciously sweet — and work as dessert. Others are bone dry, pairing best with raw fish, subtle cheeses, and other light dishes. Most fall somewhere in between, and are the perfect match for spicy Asian cuisine, like Thai and Indian. All are marked by high acidity, which is why it’s such an adaptable food wine. And all are extremely fragrant. It’s no wonder why so many sommeliers love Riesling.
Don’t ever let Riesling’s sweetness trick you into thinking it’s not a serious wine.
Sommeliers also evangelize about Riesling because it’s so good at capturing terroir, or a wine’s sense of place. In part, this is because most Riesling is fermented in stainless steel, so it isn’t manipulated through oak aging or other winemaking techniques. The grape is remarkably transparent — German researchers have found a link between soil type and flavor in Riesling. Riesling grapes sourced from slate vineyards tend to produce wines with citrus aromas, while grapes sourced from limestone vineyards typically result in more tropical fruit aromas.
As Robert Parker, the world’s most famous wine critic, recently explained, “If you want to talk about terroir, talk about German Rieslings or Alsace Rieslings, where the wines are naked — there’s no makeup.”
Even though Riesling sales have been rising, Grieco and other Riesling proselytizers still have their work cut out -- Riesling accounts for just 5 percent U.S. wine sales. But it’s not by accident that Riesling has long been known as the “noblest of the noble grapes.” So don’t be surprised if the next time you dine out, your waiter steers you towards a glass of Riesling.
DAVID WHITE, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com. His columns are housed at Wines.com, the fastest growing wine portal on the Internet.
If you ask a sommelier to name her favorite grape, there’s a good chance she’ll say Riesling.
Delectable dessert indulgences
Dessert is an indulgence, and when you delight in the taste, texture and aroma of a decadent sweet treat, you savor every bite. It is easy to get lost in the flavor and fragrance of rich chocolate or creamy caramel.
Simple weeknight suppers with pears
“Hectic family schedules don’t have to get in the way of serving up tasty and healthy weeknight dinners,” explains leading nutrition expert, cookbook author and television star Ellie Krieger, author of “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less.”
Edmond’s ‘Biggest Loser’ moves to final round
Edmond’s David Brown has reached one more plateau in his quest to lose weight. Tuesday the announcement was made that he had made it to the final three in The Biggest Loser contest.
The season’s three finalists who will weigh-in for the $250,000 grand prize and the title of “The Biggest Loser” during next week’s live finale broadcast include: Brown, a 43-year-old construction company project manager and phone company social commerce leader, Bobby Saleem, a 28-year-old attorney from Chicago, Ill.; and Rachel Frederickon, a 24-year-old voice-over artist from Los Angeles, Calif.
In the end, Rachel finished in first place with a time of one hour and 32 minutes in the Triathlon. She was immune from elimination at the upcoming weigh-in. Brown finished second.
Brown said the most nerve wracking part was the weigh-in because he always weighed in last.
Brown said the hardest work he did was emotional. “From week to week I was having to confront and overcome different fears,” Brown said. “I was pushing myself every day to the utmost limits. When you are at the end of your rope physically you have to deal with your emotions. I was journaling and praying a lot.”
Game day party tips for football fans
Entertaining this football season? To make your gatherings memorable, you’ll need to do more than just turn on the game and hope for the best. With the right party plays, you can treat your guests to a spirited game day and a memorable football feast.
Try incorporating these game changing ideas into your regular party playbook:
Celebrating balance in Pinot Noir
“If a Pinot Noir is overwhelmed with fruit — or, indeed, by any element, like oak, fruit extraction, fruit ripeness, or alcohol — you’re going to lessen the possibility that the wine can express essential place. And for me, Pinot Noir is all about essential place.”
If any grape demands contemplation, it’s Pinot Noir. The great ones translate time and place, clearly expressing the characteristics of their vintage and the soils and climate in which they’re grown.
How to make hearty winter dishes without meat
Want to add interesting taste, texture and depth to your cooking? Think mushrooms. Most varieties are available year-round.
Resolve to give your cooking a bold makeover in the new year
Bored with your everyday cooking? This New Year, resolve to give your meals an exuberant makeover. You won’t even need to look across an ocean for bold flavor inspiration from other cuisines. You can start at home, say experts.
“American cuisine has been crafted from the stupendous ingredients, flavors and dishes derived from all people who have stepped upon its shore — east to west, northern tip to southern gulf. All of it has merged into a single fabulous, kaleidoscopic menu,” said Susanna Hoffman, anthropologist and food writer and co-author of the new book, “Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors.”
McCormick announces top flavors and food trends for 2014 and beyond
Marking its 125th year as a food industry innovator, McCormick & Company, Incorporated kicked off a yearlong celebration of the tastes that bring us together with the unveiling of its McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2014: 125th Anniversary Edition.
Annual gingerbread house contest
Spread holiday cheer by making a gingerbread house this year. The Edmond Historical Society & Museum invites residents to enter into the fifth annual Gingerbread House Contest at 2 p.m. Dec. 14. Ages 5 and older are welcome to participate.
Gingerbread House Contest Rules:
• Ages 5-11, Ages 12-17, 18 and older
• Must be made out of edible materials
• Placed on 18-inch by 18-inch or smaller board
• No gingerbread kits (but you may use graham crackers)
• Participation is free, pre-registration is required
• Bring gingerbread house to the Edmond Historical Society & Museum between the dates of Dec. 10-13.
Judges will present first, second and third place awards in each age category. Judges will be looking for:
Edmond reminds residents of proper disposal of ‘FOG’
The City of Edmond’s FOG program helps homeowners learn to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease.
“These few simple tips will help you avoid a sewer back-up in your home. Not only is a sewer back-up unpleasant and unsanitary, the clean-up can cost thousands of dollars and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the cost” said Casey Moore, public information officer.
Fats, oils and grease eventually become solid rather than liquid and the grease will stick to the sides of sewer pipes and clog them. This can cause a back-up and an overflow in your home, or into the streets and streams.
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