August 2008                               


3R's - Rafik Samuel


Well, it has cooled down a little recently, but it is still summer and can warm up any day. There is no question that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are very popular wines, but another popular white wine is Riesling. It is a wine that has probably been misunderstood over the years. The grape has been tagged with a label of producing sweet wines, however Rieslings can be dry as well. The wine produced from this grape can range from sweet flavors of peach or honey to dry, crisp and acidic similar to a Sauvignon Blanc.

The Rieslings were made famous in Germany. The Germans use a classification system to rate the sweetness so one knows what they get when they buy the wine. The driest German Rieslings are labeled Kabinett. The sweetest are labeled Trockenbeerenauslese. Those labeled Spatlese, Auslese, and Beerenauslese are in the middle (Yes I did need to look up the spelling). The drier wines usually go with seafood, Asian food or chicken, while the sweeter ones can be enjoyed alone or even with dessert!

Wines from Washington State can vary from sweet to dry. Wines from the Alsace region of France are usually drier and more “elegant”. To be quite honest I can’t say I have a favorite Riesling, but they should run you from $10-$20. I usually go for the Kabinett style from Germany because I favor the crisp, acidic style of white wines.

Wine Tip:

What is the best temperature to drink wine?
There is a misconception that white wines should be served right out of the refrigerator or that red wines should be at room temperature: WRONG!
White wines should be served at 50-55 degrees, not that cold 40 from the fridge. The warmer temperature allows you to taste the flavors of the wine and enjoy it better. You could test this by tasting the wine right out of the fridge, then tasting it again 20 minutes after sitting out.

Red wines should be served at 60-65 degrees, not a warm 75-80. I think this is one of the reasons that many wine drinkers only drink red wine when it is cooler (room temp is likely closer to 70). The main reason to chill the red wine is to calm down the acidic and alcoholic flavors of the red-that is when the wine burns on the way down (now that is ok with Tequila, not red wine). Try tasting a red at room temp then put the bottle in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and see the difference.

Well enjoy the rest of the summer. The next few columns will cover my favorite wines- REDS!!!