1. Lively, Fresh, Bright
Riesling is the perfect summer wine because it is so refreshing and zippy. The fruitiness – and sweetness – are balanced out by the minerality and acidity. Well-made Riesling has a wonderful amount of acidity (lip-smacking good), which keeps it fresh and makes you want to go back for more. Not only is Riesling great for pairing with food (see #4), but it’s lively enough to keep you wanting more.
2. Low Alcohol
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is hang out with my friends and have a few drinks, poolside, on the beach, on the patio. Wherever, I’m into it. Riesling is a great choice for summer drinking because it tends to be much lower in alcohol than other wines, even other white wines. Dry Rieslings from Alsace, which is warmer than many of the great Riesling regions of the world, tend to be around 12% ABV. Many of the fruitier or sweeter versions from Germany are under 10% ABV, it’s not uncommon to find some that are as low as 7%. You could easily drink Riesling all day and not end up a sloppy mess.
The stigma surrounding Riesling is that it is sweet, cloying, and for wine beginners. (Thank you Blue Nun, Barefoot, and anyone else who is responsible for this nonsense.) There is an amazing amount of variety within Riesling. There are bone-dry versions and dessert wine versions of Riesling. In addition to a variety of dry and sweet expressions, there is a huge range of flavors found within Riesling, depending on where it’s from. Riesling from the Mosel often shows flavors of apples, peaches, petrol. Alsatian Riesling shows more austere mineral flavors with honey and fruit. The Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia is super limey. These are just a few examples of how different Rieslings can be. You can spend the whole summer, and beyond, exploring all of the different expressions of Riesling from around the world, not to mention the difference from producer to producer in a specific region.
Riesling is extraordinarily versatile. Its high acidity and spectrum of flavors make it a surprising pairing for a variety of foods:
Does Riesling go with…Grilling? Yes! Try Riesling with brats, especially those with a little spice. I always get a weird look when I say this, but think about it: Who made Riesling famous? Germany. Who made brats famous? Germany. They are a natural pairing.
Does Riesling go with other cuts of pork? Yes, Riesling goes with all different cuts and preparations of pork. Trust me.
Does Riesling go with Seafood? TRY A DRY RIESLING WITH OYSTERS! NOW! You’ll thank me. It also goes with all kinds of fish and other sea-dwelling delights.
Does Riesling go with Asian flavors? Yes, it goes well with Thai curries (try a sweeter Riesling with a spicy curry, it will change your life), Indian curries, sushi (try a dry Riesling), and so much more.
Long story longer Riesling is extremely versatile and can be/should be paired with all kinds of delicious summer foods. From fish to brats, pair your summer eating with Riesling.
This summer should be your summer of Riesling because Riesling is an extraordinary value. You can go big and get a baller bottle of Riesling, something old or rare, and be totally blown away. That said you don’t have to go big to get something really good! Tasty, well made, and interesting entry-level Riesling is around $15. Things get even better after the $20 mark. Spend $30 and you’re talking about incredible wine for the price compared to many other varietals.
Summer is coming. Get Riesling. Get ready.