I cannot tell you how many times, when I mention my love of Riesling, people tell me how much they hate Riesling because it is “too sweet.” I am left speechless because often these are people who drink sweet supermarket wines like Apothic red blend, a very “made” wine with a hefty dose of added sugar – it has 16.4 grams per liter of residual sugar – yet marketed as dry. (Note: most dry wines contain 0-10 grams per liter of residual sugar.)
So perhaps the true cry from Riesling is, “Please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Riesling can be bone dry to desert sweet and everything in between. I love good dry and off-dry Riesling – the latter, when done well, is balanced by the natural high acidity of the grape and so the wine does not taste cloying. The extra residual sugar is wonderful for someone like me who loves spicy food because it pairs well, taming the heat and complimenting the flavors.
When done poorly, of course, it can be a train wreck. I have to say that my favorite Rieslings are from outside the USA: France (Alsace) and Germany. Let’s round out the list with a shout out to Canada. Whenever I visit Vancouver, I go on the hunt for wines from Joeie Farms and have enjoyed immensely. The thought of Joeie Riesling, Muscat, and Noble Blend make my mouth water. Alas, they do not distribute their wines here in the U.S.
Back to our shores. Recently I have enjoyed Riesling from the Fingers Lakes region of New York. But I am a NorCal gal loyalist (of sorts) and wish for more fine examples from my state. Luckily, the Western region of the U.S. does represent Riesling well. My most recent find was from Oregon (much gratitude, Ovum wines). Today, I want to wax poetic about the beautiful soul of a simple and affordable Riesling from Washington state. That “nothing fancy” Kung Fu Girl Riesling that is lively with minerality and freshness and is off-dry, weighing in with 14 grams of residual sugar per liter – yes, less than the aforementioned “dry” red blend.
Confession: When I first drank Kung Fu Girl Riesling, I was at Hawker Fare in Oakland and thought that perhaps the wine made the list because of its cute name and label. Whatever. One taste and I was hooked because it was a perfect match to the cuisine, especially if you follow my lead and summon your inner hipster by adding an extra dose of sriracha on everything. Last night it shined with my spicy Korean pork dish.
Call to Action: Let’s launch a new age of Riesling Madness. Let his solid example that is easy to find be your starting part. Not to sound like a broken record but remember that wine is an adventure and journey. Looking back on where I started, I never would have imagined where I arrived today – and the journey continues, one fueled by a commitment to trying new things.
Please give yourself the joy of Riesling when and wherever possible. Enjoy it with a sense of wonder and awe, and then let me know what you think. As the old adage goes, there’s a thin line between love and hate.
From this wine lover to you with love.