A Summer of Riesling

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer

A wonderful thing is happening across the US and globally…June 20th begins the “Summer of Riesling.” As participants, Southern Season will be pouring Riesling throughout the summer (as well as various and sundry other products), all 94 days of it!

The rollout of the SoR falls in conjunction with our Friday’s Uncorked Wines of Austria Tasting. We will be sampling 7 different wines from Austria, one of which is, of course, Riesling. As well, on Saturday, June 24, we will have an official “Summer of Riesling tasting” in the wine department. The SoR website definitely covers the buzz and excitement surrounding the event, and for those “acid heads” out there – it is simply elementary to have a “Summer of Riesling.” However, in my travels over the last few years, I am forever running across the statement, “ I don’t like Riesling, it’s too sweet.” For the vast majority of Rieslings, nothing could be further from the truth. Rieslings present the perfect summer quencher –they are laden with bright, racy acidity – the “pucker factor” — that gets the juices of your mouth flowing and begging you for another sip.. Rieslings are generally aromatic, with delicious stone fruit aromas – think ripe white peach, apricot, sometimes mango. In the Germany, Austria and Australia (yes, Australia!), they express an alluring mineral quality that sends your mind to rock, wet stone, schist and slate. I mean really, I don’t remember tasting wet stone, but I sure know the sensation, retro palate smell, and the hint of petrol that leads me to the schist….it really is the schist (sorry, couldn’t help myself). When there is a bit of residual sugar, it only proves to heighten the nature fruitiness and foodability (yep, I just made that term up) of the wine. What could be more pleasant than biting into a ripe, juicy fresh piece of fruit that is quickly washed away by crystal clear acidity and leaves you breathing in hints of mineral, wet stone and delicate white flowers. What I’m getting at, is this: start the Summer of Riesling with an open mind, taste many styles (there are thousands) and sip often…the world is your Riesling, so drink it up!

For our Friday event, we will be pairing some traditional Austrian fare with our wines (be sure to check out Alexander’s Blog post below for the info and family favorites). The Austrian wine industry has struggled to change the world’s perception of their historically wonderful wines after the “Antifreeze Scandal” of 1985. 4,000 years of winemaking history counted for little when news broke that some wine brokers had been adulterating their wines with diethylene glycol. The “Anti-freeze Scandal” destroyed the market for Austrian wine and compelled Austria to tackle low standards of bulk wine production, and reposition itself as a producer of quality wines. Of course, the few wineries caught up in the scandal were not using antifreeze (ethylene glycol) to give their wines the appearance of sweetness. (For those who don’t know, the country is also home to Riedel, makers of some of the most sought-after wine glasses in the world).