Riesling is a wine that is pleasantly versatile when paired with food. Here, we’ll be taking a closer look at some notable Riesling and food marriages like Thai, Chinese, Cajun, and even BBQ favorites like hot dogs. Firstly, there are various levels of sweetness/dryness in Rieslings. From driest to sweetest:
Kabinett (dry to off-dry)
Spätlese (“late harvest”)
Auslese (“select harvest)
Beerenauslese (berry select harvest)
Trockenbeerenauslese (dry berry select harvest)
Eiswein – picked and pressed when frozen…very sweet!
When pouring a glass of Riesling you’ll get rambunctious fruit notes of stone fruit, peach, lime, lemon, honey-crisp apple, apricot, and pear. Along with the initial fruit aromas you’ll experience secondary smells of honeycomb, jasmine, and that familiar freshly zested lime from the grape’s high acidity. One of the flagship Riesling smells is petroleum/kerosene thanks to a chemical called TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydro naphthalene) which gives this grape intriguing character in the glass.
When you drink Riesling, you’ll immediately be met with its high acidity, like that of a cold glass of lemonade. Then, flavors of pineapple, lime, Meyer lemon, peach, and juicy ripe pear with interesting minerality, gas, and herbal notes to finish. With the full Riesling, flavor spectrum accounted for, it’s no wonder spicy Indian and Asian foods make such a great pair to the wine’s sweet and acidic profile.
Related: Foods that Pair with Rose
Here are a few amazing pairings to try either on your own or with a few friends at your next dinner party:
With any off-dry Rieslings (ever so slightly sweet), you’ll find that the sweetness and acidity will cut through fatty foods, bread/breading, and dance gracefully with spicy foods and even Chinese takeout. Some notable dishes to experiment with are Pork Schnitzel, freshly buttered and salted popcorn, Enchiladas, Tandoori Chicken, and last but certainly not least, hot dogs!! The cured and almost briny taste of the frankfurter meat goes nicely with the mineral and petroleum tones of dry Rieslings.
Alsace is well-known for its crisp/clean dry Riesling. These whites are chalked full of stone fruit like peach and apricot with sharp floral notes that are accentuated by mouthwatering acidity. Some classic dry Riesling pairings often fall under the seafood category, so crab, sole, sushi, smoked fish, bass, and fish tacos are always winners. If you find a nice chunk of time on an easy fall late afternoon, try cooking some duck L’orange or roast some squab with herbed fingerling potatoes. Another great dish to try with dry Riesling is a fresh and citrus forward scallop ceviche finished with lemon olive oil and smoked sea salt….SO good.
These wines are going to be jam-packed with sweet and juicy fruits like pineapple and mango. These delicious wines go well with caramel desserts, crème brulee, aged cheeses (aged gouda and parmesan are very good), and foie gras. The sweetness of the wine does a great job cutting through the fattiness of the foie gras (expensive but worth the “ratatouille moment”)
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