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A VINE DAY FOR RIESLING; Liquid news.

FAVOURED by sommeliers and connoisseurs, German riesling is a classic table wine and a great workhorse for colourful menus thanks to its tingling acidity and beguiling flavours of apples, peaches and pear.

A lucky number for some, Germany has 13 wine regions and the cool climate Rheingau and Mosel Valleys are home to some of the country's most celebrated estates, where the vines are planted on steep slate slopes along rivers, and the picturesque landscape is dotted with pretty castles and endless ruins. Indeed, the only thing that seems to stop the average wine drinker from reaching for riesling and seeking out these distinctive slender-necked bottles is a wine label in a language that's difficult to understand.

For anyone lost in translation, riesling is generally a light white wine in varying styles from sweet to dry and the lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the taste. In the same vein, the higher the abv, the dryer the style.

Spatlese (aka late harvest, so the grapes are very ripe) means semi-sweet and the Mosel Valley is famous for this higher sugar content. Trocken means dry and Rheingau rieslings are generally tangy and richer, while kabinett means off-dry, with a lower alcohol level of around 7% to 8%.

To whet your appetite - riesling is a brilliant match with spicy curries, sushi, stir-fries, roast pork and apple desserts - here are some suggestions for foodies who want to experience some of riesling's ripe rewards. For an entry level medium style, try Simply Riesling 2011, Germany (PS4.79, Tesco, 11% abv, Tesco) from the sunny slopes of the Rheinhessen area. The largest of the 13 regions, the wines have improved dramatically over the past 20 years and it's become famous for its dryer styles, as well as sweet. Served well chilled, this cheeky little number is smooth, sweet and sharp with honey giving way to flavours of tart citrus fruits - it's excellent with a lightly spiced prawn stir-fr y.

Another good introduction, producer Zimmermann-Graeff & Muller has thrown away the rule book and packaged this modern-style riesling in a traditional wine bottle with a higher-than-average alcohol content. A little gem from the Pfalz region, which is renowned for its dry wines, try Peter & Peter Riesling 2011, Germany (PS6.49, 13% abv, Tesco). Dry and clean with delicious peaches and apricots flavours, counter balanced by good acidity, it tastes extremely pleasant with sushi and sashimi.

Dr Wagner's sweet wines are aged in the biggest vaulted cellar in the Saar area of the Mosel Valley, and Dr Wagner Riesling 2011, Germany (PS8.99, 9.5% abv, Waitrose) has a vibrant acidity that keeps it fresh, floral and citrusy without being too over the top. It's ideal on its own, or with warm apple strudel and a dollop of fresh cream for an after dinner treat. As the name implies, Mineralstein Riesling 2011, Germany (PS8.99, 12% abv, Marks & Spencer) is a minerally, lean and clean style, with citrus and peach fruits that take time to grow on you. Not a style I'd suggest on its own, but the brilliant balance of fruit and acidity works like a dream with chicken tikka masala, spicy potato curry, or even roast pork with crackling to cut through the fat.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Oct 12, 2012
Words:538
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