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Jan 9, 2014 10:07 PM

The Most Versatile White Wine on Earth?

The cover page of the October 2013 Food & Wine caught my eye with this headline: " The Most Versatile White Wine on Earth ".

The headline refers to an article titled "The Case for Riesling" by Megan Krigbaum.

As my many posts on riesling show, I'm a diehard fan of this luscious varietal and really welcome this informative article. Megan provides a tremendous backgrounder to the "wide-world" of riesling from the vast range of styles, terroir differences in it's many growing regions, pairing suggestions,etc.

In fact, she makes a compelling case that riesling is the world's most versatile and food-friendly wine period, not just white wine.

Highly recommended reading. I haven't located the article online but here are some excerpts:

Links to suggested pairings:

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  1. I agree mostly...

    I don't want Riesling with Prime Rib, thank you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Leftover Prime Rib sandwich, a bit of dijon/mayo with a Kabinett or Spatlese might work...

      1. re: byrd

        Uhhhh, no.

        Years ago, I went to a tasting and dinner in Monterey, CA hosted by the producers of the Charta Estate Rheingau Rieslings -- see this NYT article for more: Other attendees were wine buyers and sommeliers from the top restaurants in Monterey and Carmel, along with several winemakers and wine writers.

        The producers present included Weingut Eberhard Ritter, Edler von Oetinger, Verwaltung der Staatsweinguter, Schloss Vollrads, Furst Lowenstein, and Weingut Georg Breuer -- among others. There were at least 12-15 producers present, IIRC, perhaps more.

        At the tasting portion of the evening, the wines SHINED! They were outstanding. Truly.

        Then came dinner, prepared by a Michelin-starred chef who came over from Germany with the winemakers of the estates (all of whom were also present).

        The Sekt served with the mushroom soup worked . . . sort of. Riesling with the next two courses (a pâté, followed by a perfectly poached salmon) were beautiful pairings. But when they brought out the Riesling with the rack of lamb, I think we all struggled. Indeed, one of the winemakers leaned over to me and said, "Wouldn't you just kill for a Pomerol right now?"

        / / / / /

        Riesling *IS* one of the world's most versatile wines and, as I think we all agree, is seriously under appreciated in the US *and* across much of the world. Color me "guilty" -- I love Riesling, and I readily confess I often overlook it. (It's a bit like, "D'oh! I coulda had a V-8!") That said, I made a concerted effort and increased my Riesling consumption in 2013 over 2012, and everyone I served it to loved it.

        But I continue to draw the line at beef and lamb. ;^)

    2. In general terms, I agree about the versatility of Riesling, and rely on it for many "difficult" dishes.


      1. While I do agree that Riesling is probably the "most versatile white wine on earth," the extremely versatile white wine that nobody but wine geeks know about is Gruner Veltliner. :)

        6 Replies
        1. re: ChefJune

          Depends, June, upon where you live. I dare say there is a lot more Austrian GV consumed here in California restaurants than there is German and Alsatian Rieslings combined.

          1. re: ChefJune

            Scheurebe also relatively obscure...

            The first time I encountered it I had byob'd several choice gewurztraminers to lotus of siam in las vegas around 1995 or so.... The owner's son took interest and asked if I'd ever tried scheurbe... Tried it? I never heard of it... just delicious with thai food and it comes off as a "cousin" in flavor to riesling and gewurztraminer.

            These are all great and versatile wines... riesling, gewurz, gv, scheurbe.... and killer matches with the right foods.

            1. re: TombstoneShadow

              Joseph Phelps used to make one when Walter Schug was still their winemaker in the 1970s.

              1. re: zin1953

                They still make it and call it Eisrébe.

            2. re: ChefJune

              I had a wonderfully happy week in Austria sampling all the Gruener Veltiner's I could, and I just love it. It plays so well with so many foods. I seek it out, but rarely find it outside of very well stocked wine shops in my area.

              A good riesling is always welcome around these parts. Cause it plays nice with almost everything. Some parings might not be optimal, but not "bad" especially for a wine novice

            3. To me, Riesling is from the land of extremes. Some of the best white wine I have ever had has been Riesling, and some of the worst. It really requires skilled winemaking, I suppose.

              Actually, in my experience, the same has been true with Viognier. But I always give it a try.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tripeler

                Extreme white wine to my palate: chardonnay.

                When it's "on" there's nothing better for me... but most of it is average to mediocre unfortunately.

              2. Riesling is the best white wine, period. Versatile, complex, delicious.