Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to become a wine snob, Step 1: Riesling

If you're overwhelmed or intimidated by the bins of different varietals in the liquor store, or the vast wine list at your favorite restaurant, or you just turned 21, don't worry! This is the first post in my "wine snob" series. In a few weeks, you'll be a wine-tasting aficionado, meaning you'll be able to tell the difference between different varietals, and determine what it is you like about a certain bottle. There's more to wine than just red vs. white!

Step 1: Sweet, floral whites
Sweet whites are the most accessible of wines. I remember before I started drinking wine, I imagined it as some kind of magical, potent grape elixer. Then I sipped a Cabernet Sauvignon and that image was shattered. Had I started with a sweet white like moscato or Riesling, my imagination may have fared better. Moscato was always a little to saccharine sweet for me, but a nice Riesling is always refreshing in the hot summer months. Riesling is one of my favorite varietals: It's a little sweet and floral, and usually pairs well with a variety of foods.

A scene from Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes

Riesling was one of the first varietals I fell in love with. Its characteristic floral and fruity notes make it an easy-drinking, refreshing varietal. And just because it's Step 1, don't feel like you'll need to scoff at it when you become more knowledgeable about other wines. It's still one of my favorite bottles.

Tasting notes: Rieslings are often fruity and floral, with aromas of green apple, lychee, and honeysuckle. In terms of residual sugar, it can be found in sweet, semi-dry, and dry. If you're a real beginner, try a semi-dry or sweet bottle. The best Rieslings are from Germany, Washington State and a place close to my heart - the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Three to try: 
Lamoreaux Landing semi-dry riesling: Lamoreaux Landing produces consistently great Rieslings and Gewurztraminer.

Chateau Ste Michele dry riesling: Usually around $10, this is one of my favorite rieslings and a great value.

Dr. Konstantine Frank dry riesling: Zesty. floral, and tangerine notes. One of the best bets from the Finger Lakes.

Note: If you're in the Finger Lakes in August, check out the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival on Canandaigua Lake.

Any other riesling fans out there? What are your favorite bottles?

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