Last summer when we paired four Riesling from Alsace with fondue, we thought it would be so much fun to get together in the winter by the fire and do it again but with a potluck of German Riesling and German food along with fondue.
Ask and ye shall receive!
Just in time for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend’s deep dive into Germany with host Nancy Brazil, several bloggers including myself were fortunate to receive a generous selection of German wines, including a number of Riesling! Five of these pictured above came from this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend sponsor Winesellers, Ltd., a family-owned importer and marketer based in the U.S. In addition to a very large portfolio of German wines, Winesellers, Ltd. imports wines from around the world. In recognition of that worldwide effort, Winesellers, Ltd. was recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as Importer of the Year in 2015.
It didn’t take Sue and I long to realize this was the perfect time to realize our friends and fondue plan. We asked Drummer Diane if she would once again like to host a gang of our friends, many who came for our last adventure in wine tasting at Halloween, and some who were also at Malbec in May and even our dry farmed Oregon Chardonnay excursion. When she said yes, the challenge was on to think about German foods and recipes — and our friends met the challenge admirably well!
Like many areas of Europe, grapes have been grown in Germany since Roman times, and documentations shows that Riesling was growing close to Rheingau in 1435. By 1500, vineyards covered some 1 million acres while today there are only about 250k — in part due to increased interest in beer– grown in 13 defined regions mostly along the Rhine and its tributaries in western Germany.
The history is relatively straightforward, but making sense of German riesling is not — unless you study German or learn a few terms:
- Trocken: dry wines with less than 9 grams/liter of residual sugar.
- Halbtrocken: off-dry with 9-18 grams/liter of residual sugar but because of high acidity they don’t taste “sweet” but “crispness” and most would identlfy them on the palate as dry.
- Feinherb: slightly more sweet than halbtrocken wines.
- Lieblich: noticeably sweet and have fallen out of fashion since the 1980s.
In addition to this, you’d find it helpful to know that wines are also defined by a minimum potential alcohol level as determined by region and grape variety; for the first three, it’s 7%.
- Kabinett: the first level of reserve grapes
- Spätlese: “late harvest” and the second level of reserve grape selection
- Auslese: “select harvest” or third level of reserve grape selection.
- Beerenauslese:“berry selection” or grapes infected by the fungus Botrytism typically a dessert wine.
- Trockenbeerenauslese: “dry berries selection” or even more concentrated than Beerenauslese. Sweet and pricey!
- Eiswein: ice wine uses naturally frozen grapes the ice stays in the press creating a super concentrated juice that produces a super sweet wine that’s high in alcohol.
So now that you’ve had a brief introduction, let’s look at the menu and then the wines!
Odd tidbit: Many of the wineries have Dr. in their names not because they are medical doctors and practicing physicians but because they an advanced degree and so can go by that title!
- Cheese plate with an emphasis on Alpine cheese
- Fondue (which uses a cup of dry wine so we used 1/3 of cup from 3 of the drier ones)
- Blanched Vegetables
- 2 kinds of Spätzle: one with gouda and mushrooms and the other without
- Pickled beets
- Red cabbage dish by Diane
- Helen’s Grandma’s Cookies
Note: We used a variety of white wine glasses including five Riesing glasses I got from my grandparents with the traditional green stems. These really bring out the petrol, slate and earthy notes.
2016 Dr. Nagler Riesling Kabinett Rheingau Rudesheim Bischofsberg Feinherb
11.0% ABV, 16.8 RS, $19 SRP
Located in the Rheingau region and the town of Rudesheim, Dr. Nagler is a 6th generation winery with a history of vines there dating back to 1031!
Color: Pale straw
Nose: Petrol, grass, sulphuric, green grape must
Palate: A bit of effervescent acidity, citrus, bright tart lemon, ruby grapefruit, tangerine pith, minerals. This is a very nice light crisp riesling with a mineral finish.
Pairing: Fine with sausage and fondue, we felt it would go nice with oysters, something with capers, sand dabs or other light white fish.
2017 – Nik Weis Mosel – Urban Riesling –
Color: Very pale
Nose: White flowers, grass, ocean air
Palate: Green apple, peach, kiwi, diatomaceous earth, honey, pollen
Pairing: John felt this wine is very even. Dora felt that it was nice with the pickled beets. It worked with the spatzel, Sue found this wine to be very food friendly; it worked with many different flavors of the meal making it quite versatile. It would be a great restaurant wine because it went with everything well. Sue felt it would be great with Thai food.
2015 – Nik Weis Mosel – St. Urbans – Hof – Wiltinger – Alte Reben –
10.5% ABV ? RS $18 SRP
Old vines established in the 1800’s.
Color: Buttercup, like a limoncello
Nose: Rubber, petrol
Palate: Bright tart, eureka lemon, the petrol notes are also on the palate, earth, minerals, leather, pepper. Bright acidity, but not bracing.
Pairing: It liked the fattiness of the sausage. I could see this working with chicken or even duck; Asian mock duck dishes would be great. I imagine pairing it with seafood, oysters.
2016 – Dr.Heyden Riesling Oppenheimer Sacktrager Spätlese –
11.1% alcohol ABV 56.1 RS $18 SRP
Color: Light straw
Nose: Light petrol, grass, vinyl, machine oil.
Palate: Tart apples, grass, semi-sweet with bright acidic tang, lemon curd or lemon custard, lemon sweet tart.
Pairing: This too is a very versatile wine. When paired with pickled food, it balances the sweetness of the wine. Pairing this wine with something spicy would be great, as the sweet would balance with the heat.
2016 – Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling Kabinett –
8.5% ABV 59.5 RS $25 SRP
Color: Very pale
Nose: Petrol, metal, wet stone, white stone fruit
Palate: Very sweet tart, green apple, lemon, pineapple
Diane: it is fun, zingy and nicely well balanced
Pairing: This is another food friendly wine. Likes foods that are also bright in acidity. Worked so well with the pickled beets and the cabbage that Diane made.
2016 Bollig Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spätlese
7.5% ABV 58.2 RS $20 SRP
Stefan Bollig’s family has made wine since the 17th Century; they grow their grapes on a steep slope composed of blue and black decomposing slaty soil. After completing his viticultural studies in 1987, Stefan has managed the estate since 1987.
Color: Light straw
Nose: Diesel, vinyl; as it warms, tropical fruit.
Palate: Bright acidity but smooth, lemon heads candy, baking spice, diesel, tropical fruit including pineapple.
Pairing: Great with the alpine cheeses, brings out the nutmeg in the bratwurst; another wine that works well with pickled foods.
2016 – Georg Albrecht Schneider – Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spätlese –
9.6% ABV 77.4 RS $17 SRP
For seven generations the Schneider family has owned this estate in Mosel.
Color: Pale yellow
Nose: Saline, very understated, subtle petrol, stone fruit
PalateL Nectarine, honey
Pairing: Alpine cheeses bring out the sweet tanginess in the wine and make a perfect end to any meal. The wine brings out the nuttiness of the alpine cheeses and the cheese tames the sweetness of the wine. I loved the potato dipped in the fondue for this one.
Helen’s Grandmother’s recipe
This cookie is not too sweet making it really wine wonderful!
Mix until fluffy:
- 1 c shortening
- 2 c sugar
Add remaining ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 5 c flour
- 1 c sour milk (1 tsp vinegar + 1 cup milk)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp soda
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c chocolate chips
Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes.
Join us for our twitter chat which is live at 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #WinePW. Check out the wines and pairings from the rest of this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend Crew by clicking on the links below.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be tempting us with “Feasting for Sankt Nikolaus Tag: German Sips, Schweineschnitzel, Spätzle, and Sauerkraut”
- Kat from Bacchus Travel & Tours will share “A German Holiday Celebration #winePW“
- Sarah from Curious Cuisinière is pairing “Chicken Schnitzel and German Riesling“
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen will discuss “German Riesling: The Default Asian Food Pairing #winePW“
- Jade of TastingPour will tempt us with “Coq Au Riesling #winePW“
- Jeff from FoodWineClick discusses “50 Shades of Kabinett Riesling“
- Michelle of Rockin Red Blog will share “German Wines: Expect The Unexpected #WinePW“
- Jill from L’Occasion will “Outfit Your Holiday Table With German Wines“
- Jane from Always Ravenous will share “Food Pairings with German Riesling #winepw“
- David of Cooking Chat has prepared “Chicken Sausage Veggie Bowl with German Riesling“
- Cindy of Grape Experiences has you covered with “Your Party Planning Checklist: Must-Have German Rieslings“
- Rupal from Journeys of A Syrah Queen will share “Rieslings For The Holidays“
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will be “Celebrating St. Nicholas Day”
- Jennifer of Vino Travels – An Italian Wine Blog will share “Everyday Pairings with German Riesling”
- Our host Nancy at Pull That Cork will share “Two Styles of German Wine and a Meal for Both #winePW“
And what’s up for us in 2019? While the schedule may change, here’s what we’re planning on doing:
Mar: Cab Franc
April: Biodynamic — and I’m hosting!
June: South Africa
July: BBQ & Rioja
Aug: New Zealand
Dec: Pet Nat
Stay tuned and please subscribe!