Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beer with your burgers?

Wisconsin is a beer state, Milwaukee the BREWCITY, and Madison, definitely a beer town. Considering Spring is officially here, based on the fact that tonight was the first time we could grill and sit outside all evening without donning a sweater, the grill is fueled and fired. What to drink with grill fare you ask? A pre-barbecue trip to the liquor store to stock up on thirst quenchers and conversation lubricants will, naturally, end in the purchase of a six-pack showcasing the local, tastiest, or rarest new brew. I've been guilty as any other. Lately, however, my mind has been busy coming up with showstopper wines to bring to gatherings from here on out. I guess they call me the Wineguy for a reason. Rose is a natural fallback, but tonight I chose a different gem:

 2012 Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia.
Without much thinking at all, it fit seamlessly into my grand scheme of wine drinking, learning, educating, and enjoyment.

The nature of today's wine-press, ratings and advertising often leaves casual wine drinkers little room to think for themselves. My last post on Tempranillo-Moscato is a prime example. Apothic Wine's 'limited release' Rose is another, and Adam Carolla's 'Mangria' is the nail in my coffin. Attractive endcaps, eye-catching labels, disgustingly low prices and truth-streching shelf talkers pretty much place a bottle in your hand whether you like it or not (if you're not shopping for wine at a small retailer who has the time and willingness to help you choose a bottle suited to your needs). The rare wines, the real wines of the world, the ones with a story, and the ones with the most interesting flavors become all but inaccessible. I keep saying it over and over, but for a generation so keen on local and crafty food, we should not relegate our wine to any less of a playing field.

Riesling has gotten a lot of press and love the past few summers, thanks most to Mr. Paul Grieco of NYC and his whole 'Summer of Riesling' phenomenon. Considering the reputation (stateside) Riesling has garnered as a sweet and uninspiring wine, I'm humbled by the hype that Summer of Riesling has churned out, and I'm excited to see where it will go this year. I'm not surprised, however. Riesling kicks ass, plain and simple. Usually fresh upon release, it's often better with age. I've had bottles of Grand Cru German Riesling from the 1970's that have brought me close to tears. The ways that sugar, acid, and flavor jive blissfully with food can write new pages on wine pairing. It only makes sense that sommeliers push so hard for the public to respect this not-so-respected grape. Riesling is not only for wine-geeks.

The Pewsey Vale tonight was stunning. The color, a tinge of yellowish green in a chilled glass sitting on a seasoned deck. My nose was tickled with what felt like an endless flow of floral and herbal notes weaving themselves deep into my senses. Prickly at first, the acid kicked my taste buds into awareness. In a blind tasting I would have never called it a Riesling, but I've also little experience with such wines from Australia. Lemon and lime came to mind on the palate, but I really, honestly was thinking more about how darn great this wine tasted than anything else. There's a time and place for analyzing a wine in all of its parts and pieces, but a back porch is not one of them. Friends loved it, even the ones who said they don't like Riesling. Bam! If you can't find this wine at your local retailer, try and find something similar. If you can't find something similar, ask for help. If you can't find help, then pick something else and let me know how it turns out.

Cheers to Spring!

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