A Riesling "Experience"


The Rieslings from our region are often described as "world class."  A simple  structured evening of tasting Rieslings might help you validate for yourself, for those casual sippers interested in wine, and perhaps for even some skeptical "connoisseurs" this oft-repeated claim.  And as an incidental benefit, will offer a reason to gather family and friends together when spring is delayed as it often is this time of year.   

Visit a local retail outlet to purchase a selection of a couple of Rieslings from around the world.  The recommendations below all available locally – and all are recognized names with a good balance of fruit, acid and be off dry to  medium in sweetness. To compare ‘bananas to bananas,’ prices should all range from $12 to about $16 each. 

Some suggestions from which you might pick one or two or your shopping excursion:  

  • Any German Riesling with Qualitätswein or Spätlese on the label. 

  • A Washington State Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle

  • A California Riesling from the Kendall Jackson [btw:  the Chardonnay winemaker at KJ is an Ohio native]

  • An Ohio grown Grand River or Lake Erie Riesling

Invite a few friends who are interested in learning a little more about wine. Use a white cloth and set the table with one wineglass per person per label.  [If you do not have that much matched stemware, ask each guest to each bring their own set of clear, "cut" edge wineglasses without a heavy "bead."] Just be sure that each individual person has the same size and shape of glass for all the wines they will individually taste.  Provide each place with a notepad and pen. 

Offer some neutral cheeses [Muenster, Colby or not too sharp cheddar] and some baskets of crusty white breads.  Before the tasting begins, instruct guests that they should rate, on a 1 [low] to 4 [high] scale, four characteristics for each wine:  Color, aroma, taste and overall "finish." 

Mark each of the glasses with a numbered dot, 1 through 5 and make sure the corresponding number is affixed to each appropriate bottle.  Chill the wines to about 55 degrees [about 3 hours in the refrigerator] and pour them into glasses in a separate room [or brown bag the bottles so wines cannot be identified before they are poured.].   

Once the tasting begins, ask each guest to silently ‘swill, sniff and sip’ each wine and then evaluate each on the four categories before they assign a final score per selection.

Then open up the discussion. Once the wines are graded, bring out the bottles to prompt for additional conversation.

After the tasting, encourage each guest to pour a small glass of their favorite and serve a light meal with perhaps a lobster bisque starter and chicken or pork entrée.  Follow with coffee or tea and simple dessert.  The meal should provide guests with an adequate time between sampling and getting into their vehicles to safely drive home.

Given the dreary March days likely ahead, an evening sipping this local star will provide a great late winter break from "cabin fever."

For additional information:  dwinchell@ohiowines.org 

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About the author:

Donniella Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association...


Donniella Winchell