When choosing a bottle of wine at the liquor store or at a restaurant, many factors usually come into play when making a decision. Flavor/taste, cost, versatility, alcohol content and longevity are the things I usually find myself wrestling with when I need to make a choice. The wine I chose today has been on a steady incline in popularity over the past few years, and has carved out a nice piece of the “sweet” white wine market for itself. Rieslings are more popular now than ever.
Riesling was an under appreciated, overlooked varietal, mostly made in the Rhine region of Germany, until the late 1990’s. That’s when Washington State became a serious contributor to the international Riesling community. (Along with France, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.) The grapes used to make Riesling thrive in colder climates.
The go-to “sweet” wine of choice since the 80’s has been the pink colored White Zinfandel. But that has all changed with the emergence of the Columbia Valley’s Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. Ste. Michelle has collaborated with many winemakers over the years, most notably Dr. Ernst Loosen of Germany, who was known for his quality of Rieslings. The winery was named Wine Enthusiast’s “American Winery of the Year” in 2004 and has steadily grown ever since. It now sits atop the world producing over 2 million cases of Riesling a year.
This recent shift in the market, away from White Zinfandel towards Riesling, is being credited to evolving consumer tastes and more adventurous drinkers being raised in a wine culture. Such a wealth of information is available to the consumer these days on the internet, and that has created a more savvy consumer.
While Rieslings are considered “sweet” wines, and many varieties are ideal dessert wines.This Eroica Riesling is not overly sweet. The sweetness is excellently balanced by its acidity. This leads to a very refreshing yet dry finish. It stands up to hearty and spicy foods and pairs up extremely well with savory cheeses, seafood, pork, and chicken dishes. It tastes of peach and pear flavors with orange, lime and floral aromas.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling meets all my criteria when choosing a bottle of wine. Taste: Delicious and easy to drink. Cost: For such a highly rated and trendy wine, it is quite reasonable. (Rated 90-93 by the major wine publications. $14-$20 for 750ml. found online ) Versatility: Ideal to be served with a wide variety of foods. Alcohol Content: 11%. Sweeter wines tend to be lower in alcohol. This makes them easier to drink and allows one to have a few glasses with a meal, without worrying about getting drunk. Longevity: While this vintage is meant to be drunk young, Riesling ages extremely well. Many feel allowing a bottle to age in your collection for anywhere up to half a decade will only reveal the wine’s true strengths.