Recently a local columnist asked a group of sommeliers, “What is the hallmark of a great wine?” My response was, “A wine that gains complexity with age.” When considering aging well, hearty reds like bordeaux and California cabernet immediately come to mind.
But consider riesling. Yes, most of the rieslings made throughout the world are best consumed in their youth, as is the case with most wines in general. But there are examples of riesling that age incredibly well, gaining in complexity over years of slow maturation.
Though the very best and longest lived examples of riesling are sweet and made from late harvest grapes, there are dry (trocken) and half dry (halb-trocken) rieslings that pair well with more robust meals of rich cheeses and meets.
Because this wine ranges in style, it is diverse and pairs well with a variety of foods. People often first consider pairing it with Asian foods because of the typical low alcohol content, absence of woodnotes and fragrant character that generally pairs well with lighter, spicy flavors. But German dishes are often made with hearty protein driven flavors. Riesling is diverse enough to try with more foods than you may think.
This wine ages quite well, too. Though Germany excels in making riesling, there are some versions outside of Germany worth seeking.
Let’s start with France, the rieslings from Alsace are perhaps second only to those of Germany. The wines are labeled by varietal so they are easy to select. They are typically fermented dry, with the exception of the Vendage Tardives and Selection Grand Nobles.
You can find a nice riesling from Austria, Italy, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, too. All make good and sometimes great examples of this wonderful varietal.
In Seaside, you can try several — at Crush (Hubertushof Classic, Pacific Rim “Vin de Glacier” and Juffer Beerenauslese), Great Southern Café (Kung fu Girl by Charles Smith) and Bud & Alley’s restaurant (Chateau Ste. Michelle, Domaine Slumberger and Trimbach).
The next time you are making a wine decision consider a rielsing. If you have questions I can help you with any wine related questions at Crush.