The holidays bring out a variety of festive foods. Germany’s white wines are delicious choices and versatile enough to pair with savory or sweet dishes.
German Riesling Versatility
For Thanksgiving we opened our doors to family and friends to share our holiday feast. In addition to the traditional turkey, we had a variety of sides including potatoes both mashed and sweet with cranberry sauce and gravy. Veggies ranged from brussel sprouts to green beans. Our table was overflowing and there are probably a few dishes I left off.
What wine to pick? A great grape for this meal, and to keep in mind for Christmas and New Years festivities, is Riesling. Germany’s reputation for outstanding wine is built on producing world-class Riesling. It’s a smart choice for holiday entertaining.
By all rights, Germany shouldn’t be able to produce excellent wine. Germany is home to some of the world’s coldest climate vineyards and it is far away from a large body of water. It’s difficult for grapes to ripen in such conditions.
Through determination and wise vineyard selection, with southern-facing slopes and close to rivers, German winegrowers have experienced success. Riesling, a cold-hardy variety, is the most widely planted grape in the country.
The 2015 Clemens Busch vom Grauen Schiefer Riesling Trocken is a dry wine that was a delightful pick for our main course. The grapes are grown on treacherously steep slopes of slippery slate that are snug up to the Mosel River. Mosel is the most northerly great wine region in the world.
This is a fresh wine that is crisp without harsh acidity. There are notes of white flowers and citrus graced with a flowing minerality. A wonderful blending with the turkey!
In contrast, the 2015 Louis Guntrum Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spätlese from Rheinhessen is an amply sweet wine. How sweet? It was sweet enough that my sister-in-law snuck into the fridge and opened the wine a few hours before our meal.
The Guntrum Riesling is juicy with honey flavors and notes of tropical fruit. Spätlese means late harvest, and the grapes are more intense in flavor than the lower Kabinett level. The ripeness can also come with sweetness.
For our dessert, we had pumpkin and pecan pie. The dessert that paired best with the Spätlese was prepared a few days later by our daughter: Bartlett pears poached in lemon jasmine tea spiced with ginger. The sweetness of the dessert dials down the sweetness of the Riesling. The pears also had some nice savory notes courtesy of the tea and ginger, which had delicious interplay with the subtle notes of the Riesling.
Rheinhessen is the largest wine-growing region in Germany and on August 6, Rheinhessen saw the first grapes picked for the earliest harvest in Germany’s history. These grapes are used to make Federweißer (“new wine”). The partially fermented, traditional beverage is halfway between grape juice and wine. It’s offered all around Germany but not exported.
Germany Riesling runs the gamut from bone dry to sublimely sweet. It’s a perfect “pearing” for you holiday meals.
Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.