Riesling is back! This fantastic wine has been misunderstood in the past, but even its reputation as an overly sweet wine with hard-to-interpret labels can’t keep it down. These days, it’s available by the glass all over town and has more shelf space in the stores. German rieslings are labeled by sweetness or sugar content, which are determined by when the grapes are picked. The label designates—in order—producer, town, and vineyard, followed by sweetness profile and region of Germany.
Wines are available at Surdyk’s Wines and Spirits, 303 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-379-3232
Loosen Bros. Dr. L 2005 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany), $12.99
A bright and fruity wine—refreshing with a quick finish. Try it on its own or with a light salad.
Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich 2005 Kabinett (MSR), $18.29
Kabinett wines are the driest whites Germany produces; don’t mistake fruit for sweetness. Crisp and fragrant with green apple and clean acids, this wine is perfect for converting the “I don’t like German wines crowd.” Try it with grilled halibut.
Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg 2004 Spatlese (Nahe), $22.99
Spatlese wines are sweeter than kabinett, but not cloying like many dessert wines. This one has a great balance of fruit and acid, like a Haralson apple. It tastes like a ripe peach that you’ve sprinkled with a touch of Hawaiian salt. Try it with a rich bread pudding or with Thai food to counteract the heat.
Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese 2004 (MSR), $23.99
Auslese is the sweetest of the German table-wine designations (there are sweeter designations for dessert wines, see below). Lush and rich with a hint of tropical fruit, this wine is sweet, but balanced with good acid. It is not cloying, and the finish is long and soft. Pair it with a pear-and-cheese tart and you just may have a new love.
Loewen Leiwener Laurentiuslay 2004 Beerenauslese (MSR), $49.99
“Ice wine” lovers have met their match. Big, complex, and delicious, this is a special occasion treat. The flavors are rich honey, apricot, and love in a glass. The wine alone is a dessert, or it can be paired with your favorite fruit dessert. I love it with great blue cheese—a sweet and salty party in your mouth.