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Focus on Flavour with Matthew Whitaker

Riesling with food

If I could only drink one grape variety for the rest of my life It would have to be Riesling. It's the most diverse and complex white grape with vibrant acidity and tantalising fruit. It is almost never masked by - and doesn't need - new oak. It's pure, ripe and not cloying or buttery. Don't get me wrong though - oak can be used to make some fantastic wines I'm not knocking it, but Riesling is a stand alone grape that best represents and reflects the land on which it's grown. The high fruit complexity along with the strong acidity makes it one of the best white grapes for aging, and aged Rieslings are some of the most sought after and delicious white wines in the world. Riesling comes in all styles from bone dry to sticky sweet, and there is guaranteed to be a Riesling for any palate and any occasion!

Riesling might not only be the best white grape variety in the world, but it might also be the best grape to pair with food.

When faced with a tricky dish to find that perfect match for, Riesling almost always seems to be able to solve the problem. Whether the dish has high acidity, richness, or strong aromatic elements, Riesling swoops in like a wine ninja to save the day. Rich dishes can be paired with an off-dry style to create a perfect balance with the subtle sweetness of the wine working in harmony with the richness of the food. Tough pickled fish or vegetable dishes work wonders with young ripe fruit driven Mosel styles with zesty acidity and long fresh finish. Foods with a lot of aromatic ingredients such as Thai and Indian cuisine can often mask the flavour of wine. But not an aged Alsatian Riesling. These Rieslings tend to have a richer feel on the palate, with strong vibrant fruit that can carry the flavour of the dish with neither wine nor dish being masked. As for the desserts, yep there is a Riesling for that too! Some Rieslings can have as much as 340g of sugar per litre (that's the equivalent of three cans of coke) Try a Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese or Eiswein style Riesling with a number of sweet desserts and find your perfect pairing.

Below are just a few options I recommend. Remember, when pairing any wine with food there are no strict rules, experimenting is what food and wine pairings are all about, and if you like the pairing then it's a good one. So grab a glass of Riesling and bring on the sunshine!

Dr Loosen 2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - Foie Gras with fresh almonds and poached cherries

Foie Gras tends to be very rich (and controversial). It needs a wine with enough sweetness to balance out that richness and the acidity must help refresh the palate as it can be rather cloying. Along with fresh lime and citrus zest this wine really brings the dish to life.

Villa Wolf Dry Riesling - Grilled lemon cod with Mediterranean vegetables

This crisp, food-friendly wine from the Rhine River valley is a great combination with light fish dishes. Green apple and lemon on the nose leading to a crisp palate with fresh acidity to carry the flaky fish and bring out the freshness of the vegetables.

Hugel Riesling, Alsace - Thai Green curry

Riesling and Asian cuisine are a quintessential pairing. The very light residual sugar in this Riesling balances out the sweet and spicy flavours, with ripe acidity and body to work with the creamy element of the dish while standing up to the strongly aromatic flavours.

Dr Loosen Blue Slate Eiswein - White chocolate cheese cake with pecans and candied lime zest

When pairing wine with dessert it's important to make sure both the sweetness of the pudding and the wine balance perfectly so they don't conflict with each other. This wine does just the trick with sweet creamy desserts. It has the vibrant acidity to work with the creaminess of the dish with rich ripe notes to balance the pecans and carry the overall sweetness.


Date: 04/07/2018 | Author: