Tasting menus are an increasingly popular dining experience for guests and often the accompanying wine flight is one not to be missed. Certainly where I work, our seven course tasting menu has changed the structure of our weekend service, such is its demand. It is a fantastic concept that gets diners trying food they wouldnʼt usually have ordered, and the same can be said of the wine. Yet there is one wine I can present guaranteed to make some guests recoil, and that is Riesling. Still baring the scars from Riesling of yore, it is no surprise that some havenʼt touched the stuff since excessively sweet styles were abundant in the 70s and 80s.
Fruity and floral in style, Rieslingʼs motherland is Germany, where the variety is produced according to its strict classification system. Ranging from styles that are light bodied, dry, with notes of green fruit (Kabinett), to wines that could be described as curvy, as in exotic fruits and fuller bodied (Auslese), Riesling is a wine variety that has many guises. Nowadays, New World wineries are producing some beautiful Rieslings. Bone dry in style, with lime citrus and steely character, the better wines will waft petrol-like aromas. I strongly encourage you to try a Riesling from Clare Valley in Australia, you will be converted, I promise!
Riesling is a great wine to pair with food. No one will contest how well Riesling goes with Asian food. A fragrant coconut curry, grilled mackerel with a mango, lime and coriander salsa or slow cooked Mexican pork, Riesling has the right ratio of acid and fruit to lift these dishes to another level. In the restaurant, it has been a revelation to have a Riesling so different to how some of our guests remember the variety to be, so much so that they actually buy a bottle to take home with them.
I have listed a couple of Rieslings for you to look for next time you are in the supermarket, and also the bottle we sell in the restaurant, which can be found online. Itʼs time to reacquaint ourselves with Riesling, and not leave it blinking from the bottom of the wine list.
Aldi Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling - £6.99
The bottle proudly shows off its awards with all its shiny discs, this wine promises to be a catch. And it certainly delivers. Lime and pink grapefruit, a hint of eucalyptus and a mineral edge, this really is a delicious wine from Australiaʼs top Riesling region. It has pronounced aromas of kerosene which may be a little off putting if this is your first foray into Riesling, in which case, try my second choice.
Axis Clare Valley Riesling - £5.99 - Lidl
Floral, zesty and exceptional value, this Riesling is a lovely introduction to its New World style.
Emiliana Reserva Riesling - £7.75 - Rollings Wine Company
This is the Riesling that has delighted many of our customers in the restaurant. From the Bio Bio valley in Chile, it expresses lime and grapefruit and has a flinty, mineral finish.