Who doesn’t love a good wine party? We think wine parties are the best way to learn about wine, and wine for food. With that in mind, we bring you Wine Party of the Month, a monthly article detailing wine and food recommendations from one wine varietal or region. Each article suggests three categories of wine that will pair beautifully with food (seasonal recipes included). All wines are likely to be found in your local wine shop for a range of prices. Grab your friends, take our recommendations, and throw your own Wine Party of the Month! Be sure to take pictures and tag us @Wine_4_Food.
It’s time for Friendsgiving! You know, a pre-Thanksgiving dinner party for, and by, your friends. It’s not often that there is such a tangible opportunity to celebrate your dearest compadres. Show your gratitude with rich comforting plates, and lots and lots of wine.
November is a great time for Riesling. There really is no better grape to pair with the sweet succulence of poultry, earthiness of root vegetables, and baking spices of Thanksgiving. Riesling naturally contains a larger sugar content than other grapes, and also gets sweeter faster. This sweetness beautifully balances with the sweetness of nearly everything on a Thanksgiving table. Additionally, the intense aromatic quality of Riesling pairs nicely with the spiciness of this time of year. Lastly, Riesling’s acidity makes it an especially good wine for food.
But don’t be fooled. Many people associate Riesling with cloying, poor quality swill. Good Riesling is elegant, complex, balanced, full of interesting flavors, and can be bone dry. Our menu explores the flavors of Riesling by pairing each course with a different level of sweetness: dry, off-dry, and sweet. This allows you to taste how sweetness changes flavor; the sweeter the wine, the more aromatic the nose, and the more intense the flavor. Below is a tasting note to help you identify Riesling.
Riesling Tasting Note
Riesling is typically clear straw yellow to light gold in color (depending on sweetness). Aromas tend to be apple, pear, lime, floral, mineral, honey, and petrol (with age). Flavors are fresh, bright and acidic. They taste of honey, peach, pear, lemon, herb, and minerality. The body is medium to full bodied with a rich mouthfeel.
What you need to know about Riesling:
• Best regions are Germany, Austria, Finger Lakes, Alsace France
• The number one location for Riesling is Germany (top vintages 2015, 2011, 2009, 2001)
• German Rieslings tend to be off-dry to sweet, however, dry Rieslings can be found by looking for the word “trocken” on the label (means dry in German)
• Austrian Rieslings are usually dry
• Riesling does well in cooler climates
• Riesling is highly acidic, low tannin, ages well, maintains brightness over time, and pairs beautifully with food
FIRST COURSE: Alsatian Dry Riesling
We are going to start this party with dry Riesling from Alsace, France. On the border of France and Germany, Alsace is known for its white wine, a large percentage of which is dry Riesling. For this course, we love the 2015 Château de Riquewihr Dopff & Irion ‘Riesling Cuvée René Dopff’. This wine is expertly crafted from hand-picked grapes, and a exquisite example of dry Riesling. It is straw in color, with aromas of stone, pear, and white flowers. It’s acidic, dry, and incredible. We also enjoy our 2015 Cave de Ribeauvillé ‘Vendanges Manuells’ Riesling, another good example of dry Riesling with a lovely stone finish.
FOOD: We’ve paired this course with a little-known cheese gem called St. Marcellin from the Rhône-Alpes region of France. Go to your local cheesemonger to find it. It is a delicately textured cow’s milk cheese that oozes as it warms up, and often comes in a terra cotta crock which is perfect for serving. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm from the oven, with crusty bread and thinly sliced tart green apples. Notice how the cheese brings out the minerality, green apple, and pear flavors of the Riesling.
SECOND COURSE: German Off-dry Riesling
This is where we get traditional add flare so that you don’t end up cooking the same Thanksgiving dinner twice. We’ve chosen German off-dry Riesling to pair with this course. Because it just goes. The semi-sweet quality of off-dry Riesling plays on the richness of the roasted goose, candy-sweet potatoes, and gooey parsnip gratin. We recommend our Golden Ram Imports 2008 Toni Jost ‘Bacharacher Hahn Riesling Kabinett’ and 2007 Dr. Siemens ‘Serringer Wurtzberg Riesling Spatlese Feinherb’. The Toni Jost is a classic expression of Riesling with an acidic front end, quickly followed by sweetness, and then leaves a long lingering Riesling flavor. The Dr. Siemens wine is like Christmas and puts an exclamation point on this decadent main course. Remember, there is no need to do all of this cooking yourself! Send out these recipes, and have each friend bring a dish.
FOOD: Try the Roasted Goose with Crispy Skin Recipe by Jacques Pépin on Food & Wine with Tyler Florence’s Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon from the Food Network, Feasting at Home’s Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme and Serious Eats’ Green Beans Almondine.
THIRD COURSE: Sweet Riesling
Now for a sweet treat. This is a double doozy because both the wine and dessert are sweet. This pairing works because it brings out the honey, caramel, and nutty flavors of sweet Riesling. Plus, to know Riesling is to know excellent sweet Riesling. So make this pumpkin and apple gazette, and try it with the 2011 Château de Riquewihr Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg. This wine has an exciting note of steel in addition to the traditional honey aromas. You may also smell white flowers and stone. The flavor is honey goodness. Perfectly balanced. Or try the 2007 Dr. Siemens ‘Serriger Wurtzberg Riesling Auslese’ or the 2011 Toni Jost ‘Bacharacher Riesling Auslese,’ both of which we love so much that they are in our portfolio.
FOOD: We especially love the Food Network’s Apple-Pumpkin Galette to end all of your Thanksgiving meals.
Which level of Riesling sweetness did you prefer? Send us a message on social media and let us know on Facebook or Instagram. We would love to see a photo of you and your friends. Happy Friendsgiving!