Wine of the Week

From bone-dry to honey-sweet, Rieslings create complex marriages of flavor

Riesling Everywhere, but How To Choose?

Two items struck me this week. First, a nice bottle of dry to just barely sweet Riesling would have paired perfectly with most of the Indian restaurants we read about in last week's paper. Second, that same Riesling would also match up impeccably with Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, with the exception of Champagne, no wine is more food-friendly. Of course, what makes Riesling so accommodating is the fact that it is a stylistic chameleon. You can buy everything from bone-dry to a version that would challenge honey for sweetness. The fragrance can also range from fruity to something close to the aroma of diesel fuel. Because of the breadth of choices, some wine lovers just throw their hands up and walk away from this delightful grape. Instead, you should seek some guidance. Riesling is one of the best arguments I can make for finding a wine salesperson you trust and letting them guide you.

But, just in case you need a bit of help to make your own start, here are a few wines that are distinctive and delicious. One of the U.S.'s best bargains is Chateau Ste. Michelle's Columbia Valley Riesling ($9), a simple but balanced wine with big apple aromas. A step up the price ladder, Handley Cellars Mendocino County Riesling ($18) is dependably among the five best in the U.S. for under $25. For a little bit more, you can buy from one of Germany's great wine producers, Joh. Jos. Prüm. The aroma of their Riesling Kabinett ($23) is a complex marriage of green apples and spring flowers. If you want something really special for your holiday meal, consider a bottle of Prager Riesling Steinriegl Federspiel ($35). This Austrian wine carries that whiff of petroleum that would marry nicely with a Jalapeño Apple Crisp Pie from RO's Outpost Bar-B-Que. And for those who can swing the freight and find a rare bottle, Trimbach's Clos Sainte Hune (available locally from $170-$233) is a glimpse of heaven. Many a Master Sommelier will say it ranks with the greatest wines on earth.

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Riesling, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Handley Cellars, Joh. Jos. Prum, Prager, Trimbach

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