Riesling: a sticky past and racy future


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

This month Damian Carrington – Agency Director of Fields, Morris and Verdin – pays tribute to the Riesling grape, a varietal whose reputation has suffered in recent years, but produces exceptional wines both for sipping on their own and partnering food.

There is a part of me that will forever remain a school boy, a trait that takes a number of forms: an irrational love of steamed puddings, a detestation of liver, and a terrible habit of leaving my homework (ie writing this blog) until the very last minute. I am at the stage in life of nagging my children endlessly to avoid a trap that I can’t help falling into myself. This procrastination generally leads to a reasonably protracted struggle to find a sensible topic, or at least one that the editor will approve of.  This morning my wife came to the rescue, as she headed off to Germany for a business trip. It struck me that a paean to German (and other countries’) Rieslings might just get me off the hook.

The heady days of late spring and summer are the perfect time of year for the drier styles of German Riesling, whether just on its own (I can’t think of many better things than Riesling Spätlese and a test match morning at Lord’s, although Champagne sadly does seem to be more de rigeur these days) or more particularly as a match with food.

Germany is still struggling to throw off the image of the sickly-sweet Blue Nun but please don’t be put off.  The quality of German wine has genuinely never been better and increasingly producers are making much drier styles, which make them brilliant and versatile partners with food.  The key is to balance the combination of ripe fruit, acidity and sweetness.  Sadly German labelling law is still far from straightforward, so don’t be afraid to ask your wine merchant or sommelier for help.

The drier, fresher styles are brilliant with fried or baked fish, sushi and sashimi, charcuterie, dim sum, crab and shellfish; while slightly richer, fuller styles work brilliantly with far eastern cuisine (Thai and Chinese), as well as white meats and sauces like beurre blanc.  Interestingly Riesling is increasingly making an appearance by the glass on wine lists, which is great news and not before time. Prost!

Producers to look out for: Eva FrickeHeymann Löwenstein, Selbach Oster and Van Volxem.

Tomorrow we are holding a tasting celebrating the wines of Alsace, Germany and Austria: you can book tickets on bbr.com.