When I was first getting into wine, I was taking classes with an enigmatic winemaker who broke up his classes into regions. We would taste about 10 wines from one region at a time, usually paired with bread and cheese (usually from the region itself). It was an amazing way to decipher regional styles and I highly recommend tasting this way if you are trying to learn. I bring it up because the night we tasted the wines of Alsace is one I’ll always remember. This was my first experience with a region that grows primarily “aromatic” whites. These being mainly Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner and Muscat. To this day, I find watching a person taste these grapes for the first time pretty entertaining. These wines are distinctive. Clear aromatics ranging from simple green apple to roses to lychee fruit to apricot to petroleum (common in Riesling) leap out of the glass. Read the tasting note below for confirmation on how complex they can be. It’s pretty awesome and sometimes pretty divisive. For those who are used to drinking pinot grigio, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, these wines can seem downright showy. They show the breadth and diversity of a lowly grape though, and this is what makes wine so interesting. They’re some of the best pairs for spicy and Asian food. They’re also some of the longest aging wines on the planet, defying the preconception that only red wine can age.
You’re saying now, “but Autumn, Riesling is sweet!” The sweetness level of a wine…any wine…is determined by the winemaker, not the grape. Generally, lower priced Rieslings from Germany are made on the sweeter side and are not without their own charms. Don’t forget that sugar has a purpose in wine and is especially helpful when pairing with certain foods. BUT, if you just can’t deal with sweet and you’re interested in enjoying a Riesling which is dry (the opposite of sweet in wine terms) then all you need to do is cross the border of Germany into France and try an Alsatian one. The French prefer a dry wine and make them this way. The Willm is dry and bright and rich and aromatic and darn good. That’s a lot of descriptors for $12.99. -Autumn
“Crackling with bright acidity, this sleek white offers a fine array of yellow and green apple, crunchy white peach, mango, blood orange and anise, with a lip-smacking, mineral-tinged finish. Drink now through 2020. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.” 90 Points, Wine Spectator
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