Molly's Meal Match: Riesling
Updated: Feb 6
Riesling is an aromatic varietal that should be a staple on everyone's wine rack. Unfortunately, many wine drinkers have a preconceived notion that Riesling is too sweet. In fact, it's quite a diverse grape, made in styles ranging from bone dry to crazy sweet, tart to creamy, and light to full bodied.
This cool climate grape needs very little intervention in regard to winemaking techniques, the impact on the grape is seen primarily in the vineyard. It's high acid and terroir driven, making picking the grapes at the right moment - pertinent for making a delicious wine.
Because Riesling is so diverse and aromatic, it's a great default wine for when you are unsure of what to pair with a meal. It pairs well with duck, shrimp, pork, bacon, fish, pickles, mint, rosemary, fruity desserts, Thai food, and spicy Indian foods. The wine's high acidity and fragrant aromas, allow it to withstand the acidity in vinegar based sauces and varying pungent seasonings.
Wine Buying Tip: They are often low in alcohol, many below 13%. If you find one for 12% or above, it will most certainly dry.
Alsace is the only region in France, in which Riesling is permitted to grow. It's warmer and sunnier than the traditional German growing regions. It produces powerful, fleshy, and often dry Rieslings with palate-coating minerality. Their mouthwatering high acidity, make these wines complex with amazing aging potential. They are best after two years of age, when they become rich and viscous.
Austrian Rieslings are opulent and lush, full of nectarine and peach aromas. The powerful acidity, is off-set by full bodied richness. They are more similar to Alsace, than Germany in regard to flavor profile. They have delicious minerality and show little fruit, while unmasking the region's terroir.
Finger Lakes, NY
Riesling is a major grape in the Finger Lakes, New York. It's dynamic and vibrant, ranging in styles from dry to dessert. They are among the most effervescent wines in the US, light in body with concentrated flavors and harmonious acidity.
Germany is the world's most important producer of Riesling, it contributes to 50% of the world's plantings. Because there are so many representations of Rieslings in Germany, it's important to look for wines with one of the six, Prädikatswein classifications. Looking for one of these will also aid in determining the dry-sweet levels of the wine.
Kabinett - light, dry, fresh citrus and green fruit aromas.
Spatlese (late Harvest) - more concentrated and fuller body ripe citrus and peach aromas.
Auslese (selected harvest) - extra ripe bunches, stone, tropical, and dried fruit aromas. Can be made in sweeter or in troken (dry) styles.
Eiswein (icewine) - berries are frozen on the vine, produce small yields, stone and tropical fruit aromas.
Beerenauslese (selected berry harvest) - selected bunches of berries, that have been concentrated by botrytis (mold) with dried honey, stone and tropical fruit aromas.
Trokenbeerenauslese (selected dried berry harvest) - selected berries that have been dried through botrytis similar, to Beerenauslese - but more intense.
Flavors + Aromas
Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation):
Floral: honeysuckle, white flowers, jasmine, rose
Red Fruit: white cherry, strawberry
Black Fruit: blackcurrant
Green Fruit: green apple, pear,
Citrus Fruits: lime, lemon, meyer lemon, pink grapefruit
Stone Fruits: apricot, nectarine
Tropical Fruits: melon, mango, guava, pineapple, green papaya, starfruit, lychee
Herbal: rosemary, basil, saffron
Spice: white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bean
Fruit Ripeness: ripe,
Other: wet slate, beeswax, minerals
Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking):
Malolactic Conversion: cream
Petroleum (Gasoline), Kerosene, honey , dried fruits
*Cellar for 20-30 Years
topped w/ Maple Apples
Snowshell Vineyards, 2020 (Finger Lakes, NY)
Forget about bubbly for brunch, pick up some Riesling! This aromatic, high acid varietal is the perfect companion for sweet and heavily seasoned foods. This pairing is savory, sweet, and down right delicious! This dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes has a floral aroma of orange blossoms and a hint of nectarine. The high acid lime flavors cut through the fattiness of the Gruyere and the sweetness of the apples and maple syrup.
1. In a medium saucepan, bring apples, water, maple syrup and cinnamon stick to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes - until apples are tender. Transfer the apples to a bowl, using a slotted spoon and let cool.
2. Meanwhile whisk the milk and eggs together in a separate bowl.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix together Dijon mustard and a pinch of horse radish. On one side of each of the bread slices, spread the mustard mixture. Top with cheese and ham slices, then form the sandwich.
bread > mustard mixture > cheese > ham > cheese > mustard mixture > bread
4. In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat.
5. Dip all sides of the sandwich in the beaten egg and place the sandwiches on the warmed skillet. Cover and cook on medium until the bread is browned on the bottom (roughly 3 min). Then flip the sandwiches and repeat.
6. Transfer sandwiches to plate, top with apples and a drizzle of maple syrup.
4 slices of thick white bread
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of maple syrup
8 sandwhich slices of ham
4 slices of Gruyere cheese
Dijon and horseradish (to taste)
1 tbsp butter
2/3 cup of milk
2 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced)
Red Curry Chicken Kebabs & Mint Cream Sauce
Gerd Anselmann, 2018 (Pfalz, DE)
This bright and refreshing meal pairing was simply, meant to be. This wine is lightly sweet, with notes of lime, mango and honey. It has mouth filling acidity, complimented by oily textures on the palate. The attributes of the wine, compliment the spicy, minty, and creamy flavors in the dish. Neither the wine, nor the meal gets lost behind the flavors of the other.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the curry paste, avocado oil, and salt.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-2 inch cubes, add the cubes to the bowl with the curry paste mixture and toss to evenly coat.
3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This will allow the flavors to soak into the chicken.
4. Pull the chicken out of the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking and warm up your grill to a high temp. Meanwhile, build your kebab, alternating chicken cubes with the bell pepper slices.
5. When the grill is up to temp, put the kebabs on! On our Trager it takes about 20-25 minutes to cook fully cook the chicken - rotating 1/2 way through.
6. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, honey, lime juice, mint, garlic powder, and salt.
7. Sip your wine, until the kebabs are ready to pull from the grill. You will want the kebabs to be slightly charred.
8. Serve the kebabs along side the mint cream sauce.
Mint Cream Sauce
Salt (to taste)
1/2 cup of avocado oil
4 oz Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste
Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp honey
2 lbs bonless skinless chicken breast
3/4 cup non-fat greet yogurt
1/4 cup of light mayo
2 red bell peppers (green works too)
1/2 lime juiced
1 tbsp mint (chopped)
Pulled Pork Bánh mìn
w/ Siracha Aioli & Pickled Veggies
Anne de K, 2015 (Alsace, FR)
This is a spicy, zesty and juxtaposing pairing that will have your mouth watering. It's delicious sandwich filled with pulled pork, crunchy veggies and a spicy Siracha aioli. The oily minerality of the wine, cuts through the fattiness of the pork and the honeyed aromas of the wine are aromatic enough to withstand the flavor filled pickled veggies.
Directions - Pulled Pork
1. In a bowl, combine garlic powder, 3/4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp chili powder and salt & pepper (to taste). Rub the mixture all over the pork.
2. Transfer seasoned pork to a crockpot and add in the vegetable broth. Cook on high for 6 hours on high.
3. Shred pork with forks, 30 min prior to serving.
Directions - Siracha Cream Sauce
1. Whisk together mayonnaise, sriracha, lime juice, honey and salt & pepper to taste.
Directions - Pickled Veggies
1. Julienne cucumber (removing the seeds) and carrots.
2. In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Then add in the veggies.
3. Refrigerate, covered for 2+ hours.
Siracha Cream Sauce
French bread rolls
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 tsp paprika 2 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper (to taste)
4-4.5 lb bone in pork shoulder
2 tsp of honey
salt & pepper (to taste)
4 tsp of Siracha
1 cup of mayo
1 lime juiced
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup of water
3 tbsp sugar
4 oz carrots (julienned) 1 cucumber (julienned)
Build your sandwich:
bread > siracha mayo > pulled pork > pickled veggies > siracha mayo drizzle > cilantro > bread
I hope you enjoyed learning about Riesling and checking out these pairing suggestions. If you have feedback, comments, or questions please feel free to comment below, post to The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me on Instagram.
Thank you Wine Simple, Wine for Normal People, The Wine Bible, and Wine Folly for providing me with amazing research materials. Follow along with The Wine Tails Pinterest page to see what gets me motivated and gives me inspiration for these pairings.
Cheers and happy sipping!