Why is Riesling So Food-friendly?
One of Riesling's key pairing advantages for it's food adaptability is that there are so many regional influences and style variations made from this single grape varietal. Rieslings are known for their balance of acidity and sugar. It's the acidity that allows it to encounter and woo a variety of difficult pairing partners. The acid allows the wine to handle hearty sauces, high-end meats and even lighter fare like appetizers and even off-set some of the tangy flavors of ginger and lime in Asian fare. While the innate fruit factor (apple, pear, citrus and tropical) and light sweetness of an off-dry Riesling lends it charm for tackling high spice foods.
Riesling is a refreshing wine for several reasons. The first being that many winemakers take a "Don't mess with Riesling" approach to making top Riesling wines. They say no to malolactic fermentation, no to new oak and typically no to blends with other grape varietals, leaving most Riesling wines free and pure to showcase the grape character and terroir qualities. The result is a fairly pristine white wine that fully displays the Riesling varietal's ripe fruit flavors and characteristic crisp acidity. A perfect wine for...anytime!
Specific Riesling Food-Pairing Strategies
Germany's Rieslings - Depending on the specific region, these wines, tend to show more apple, pear or citrus and even tropical fruit with lower alcohol levels, at times a sweet touch and always good acidity. German Rieslings are known for pairing well with the likes of: Chinese food, Cajun cuisine, Tex-Mex (with cilantro), roasted pork, roasted duck or goose, seafood, Thai food and even salad dressings with vinegar.
Food Pairing by Ripeness Classifications:
Kabinett - This is Germany's driest Riesling, with a fairly light body. Kabinett works well with seafood, Asian, Thai, sushi, veggies, garlic and lighter poultry or pork entrees.
- Spatlese - This is often an off-dry wine with a medium-body. Spatlese works well with spicy fare, fruit dishes, lobster, scallops and fish, pork, BLT sandwiches and smoked meat.
- Auslese - A fantastic pick for avocados, rich cheese, crab, goat cheese, foie gras and rich textured dishes.
- Beerenauslese - This is where Riesling wines take a decided turn into the "sweet" category. This category of Riesling is amazing with caramel, apple, peaches and cream, sweet desserts and pies.
- Trockenbeerenauslese - This sweet Riesling classification is made for blue cheese, apple pie, caramelized desserts, tropical fruit and the like.
- Eiswien - Literally translated as "ice wine," this is the upper echelon of dessert wines and truly is a dessert in its own right. However, if you must pair it with something it is a natural with just about any dessert favorites.
Alsatian Rieslings - French Rieslings tend to go well with smoked fish, crab cakes, foie gras, roasted goose, pâté and wild game.
Washington Rieslings - These tend to pair well with Asian fusion, seafood and curries.
Riesling is a wine option that can handle a full spectrum of foodie favorites, from tangy vinaigrette dressings to full-flavored sauce laden entrees and spicy medleys. This is a "go to" white wine that will be able to handle most foods, most of the time.