Tag Archives: Riesling

A Study in Wine – Riesling

Today I wanted to focus on a gravely misrepresented grape; Riesling. Riesling is one of the worlds greatest white wines and often gets pushed aside as a beginner grape, or just for the ladies. Well, hopefully this blog will open your eyes to how diverse and expressive Riesling really can be!

What is it?

Riesling – A cold climate white wine grape who’s name’s origin is a little foggy but most believe comes from the German word Russ meaning dark wood. Riesling vines are dark and strong, and for many years the grape was called Ruessling, so this makes sense.

Where does it grow?

The very best Rieslings come from their homeland of Germany. Rieslings first account of being bought was in 1435 in the town of Ruesselsheim, Germany. Plantings of the grape are speculated to date back to 1232 in Austria, however, there is no clear documentation. Riesling grows all over Germany, most notable in the Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, and Nahe. Many people get Riesling confused with Piesporter. Piesporter is a town in the Mosel where many good quality Rieslings are made however, if a label simply states Piesporter, or Piesporter Michelsberg, it means that this wine is a blend of many white wine grapes from the area. Each of these regions have a unique style to their Riesling, some are more slate and mineral driven, where as some are more full and fruity.

Besides Germany, Riesling grows all over the world. In Australia, look for Rieslings from the Clare or Eden Valley. Classically, these Riesling are some of the driest world round. In France, Alsace is the only region allowed by law to produce Riesling. Their Rieslings tend to be dry, clean and elegant. Austria, though better known for Gruner Veltleiner, also produces many good quality Rieslings.

In North America, the states that are most focused on Riesling are Washington, New York, Oregon and Michigan. Washington’s Rieslings are a normally quite affordable and very good; Chateau St. Michele is the top producer of Riesling world wide. The Riesling grape, with its strong and frost resistant vines, grow very well in these northern states, producing fruity, fun wines. Chateau Grand Traverse and Black Star Farms are some of the main vineyards in Michigan that are really showing the world what terrific wines we can make.

What does it taste like?

Dry Riesling tastes of apple blossom, lemon, and lime, whereas the sweeter Rieslings lean toward peach, honeysuckle, and apricot. They take on the character of their surroundings, so many will taste of slate or wet stone, which are commonly found in Germany. Rieslings have wonderful aging potential and the older they get the more honeyed and spiced they taste.

What do I pair it with?

The saying goes: drink wine with what is found where it’s grown. Fresh ceviche with Spanish Albarino, Argentine Malbec with beef, Champagne with Brie; and though the racy acidity of German Riesling does go with the rich foods of Germany, Asian cuisine is always a terrific pairing. Spicy foods are cooled by the sweetness of Riesling and the drier wines create perfect balance with light and delicate sushi. It is so versatile that it is a great pick for elaborate meals like Thanksgiving. Riesling cleanses and refreshes the palate after a bite of gravy soaked turkey or creamy green bean casserole.

Cheeses that pair nice are generally creamy and smooth in texture with nutty or floral notes, like Raclette, Gouda, and Gruyere. I could go on and on about food pairing with the different levels of sweetness of Riesling, like, Beerenauslese and Icewine, but I think I will leave that for another blog.

What are your favorites?

Jacob’s Creek Dry Riesling, South Eastern Australia 2011 $6.99 –
Notes of grapefruit candy and lime on the nose, this extreme value is refreshing, clean, and makes an amazing turkey brine!

Chateau Chantal Late Harvest Riesling, Michigan 2011 $16.99 –
Honeysuckle, apricot, pear and peach are all prevalent through out this delicious sipper. Terrific with spicy Asian cuisine or on its own, this one is definitely sweeter but still balanced with acidity.

Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbach Rheingau Riesling 2009 Hohenrain – Old Vines $18.99 –
Peach and lime zest on the nose with white peach and apricot on the palate, this Riesling does an outstanding job of balancing sweetness and acidity. This is by far my favorite, it is complex, mouthwatering, and delicious.

Throughout my career I have noticed many trends. Merlot is a gateway to Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscato is the new White Zin, and wine lovers drink Riesling at the beginning of their wine journey, and always come back to it after they have acquired the knowledge and respect for an this outstanding grape. I hope my blog has given you the extra nudge you needed to try Riesling again.


– Jennifer Laurie

Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, from the sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie to the turkey and wine, I am lucky enough to sit back and enjoy it all.  However, for most shoppers, it’s a hectic scramble through the aisles of Nino’s as they grab all of the appropriate turkey day complements. Well, here are my picks for the big day to help ease your wine worries.  Whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge, Nino’s has the wine to suit your needs.

Drink on a dime – These wines are easy drinking crowd pleasers that won’t bust your budget!

Castle Rock Pinot Noir California Cuvee 2009 – Regularly $12.99 Now $8.99

What an overachiever! Even at $12.99, this is a great value.  Cooked plum, forest floor, and ripe cranberry with a nice dry finish.

PKNT Pinot Noir Itata Valley, Chile 2009 – $6.99

A very nice little Pinot Noir that’s fruity, with black cherry and spice notes.

Conde De Alicante Rosé Alicante, Spain – $6.99

Bright strawberry and raspberry fruit with a clean, dry finish.

Columbia Crest Riesling Two Vines Columbia Valley, Washington – $7.99

Sweet, with zippy acidity. Pear, honey and apricot round out this clean finishing Riesling.

For The Savvy Sipper – Good everyday values for the more sophisticated palates.


Georges Deboeuf Morgon Beaujolais, France 2009$11.99

There has been a big buzz around the 2009 Beaujolais and this little gem did not let me down! Strawberry and Bing cherry in the nose, with lovely floral notes.  Black currant and blackberry, with a chocolaty richness and supple mid-palate.  Not overly dry, but has a little tannic grip that leaves you wanting more.

Maipe Rosé of Malbec Mendoza, Argentina 2010 – $10.99

Last February I was able to go to a trade tasting in Virginia, where I tried nearly 200 wines. Out of the lot, the most memorable was this little Rosé from Argentina.  The color is bright Magenta, the nose is full of bright strawberry and pomegranate fruit, and the taste is a burst of watermelon and strawberry. There’s enough fruit to keep the White Zin drinker happy and enough complexity and acidity for everyone else.

Helfrich Pinot Gris Alsace, France 2007$11.99

Fresh and clean with cooked pear, apple, and just a touch of grapefruit. This wine is not too sweet, just lightly juicy to complement an assortment of flavorful dishes.

Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc Sonoma County, California 2008 – $16.99

Ripe juicy pear with citrus notes. Round and fleshy. Nice acidity on the finish makes this a great palate cleanser.

Serious Snobbery – If you have guests coming over that love to lament about the do’s and don’ts of wine, here are my picks to impress the self proclaimed sommelier in your life.

Apolloni Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon 2006 – $32.99

Soft and complex, this wine integrates toasty oak with black cherry and spice. A ripe, round, and stylistically classic Oregon Pinot Noir. Aerate or open at least an hour before dinner.

Celani Family Vineyards Rosé Napa Valley, California 2009 – $17.99

Crisp and clean, the acidity in this rose will cut through the heavy potatoes and creamy dishes. Bright strawberry and pomegranate flavors.

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 2007 – $69.99

Vieux Telegraphe is a favorite of Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, and yours truly. The 2007 is highly sought after for its ripe complexity and cellaring ability. However, with a little aeration this will make your cranberries sing and your Turkey dance! Herbs, ground pepper, and stoney in the nose, the palate is ripe with cooked cranberry, fig, currant, and a touch of licorice on the finish.

Champalou Vouvray, France 2007 – $19.99

Made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes, this wine expresses ripe stone fruits like peaches and apricot intertwined with notes of white flowers. The creamy, fruity mid-palate will complement golden raisin in stuffing, cooked apples, and the turkey.

Now of course, we have many, many more wines to choose from and everyone’s tastes are different.  Think of this as a starting point.  If one of these wines intrigued you but you want something a little different, Nino’s wine team will be here to help find the perfect bottle for your Thanksgiving feast!


– Jennifer Laurie

Value Wines: Cabernet, Riesling, Pinot Grigio

Spring is finally here! At our Nino’s in Troy store we have opened up the garage doors and the fresh air is energizing!    The Easter Bunny will be hopping into town soon and I am hoping for a basket full of great wine deals. This week’s Marketplace Specials are an exciting mix of old and new that will pair well with your Easter meals.

Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Everyday: $16.99

Bright purple in color, this wine really surprised me.  It is a popular item and upon re-tasting it I can see why.  The nose had lovely red and black fruit with a touch oak. Ripe and full bodied with well integrated oak and soft tannins. Lamb or Horseradish slathered prime rib would be my pick for this bold yet elegant cab.

Kallfelz Single Vineyard Kabinett Riesling 2007

Everyday: $14.99       Marketplace Special: $4.99

Three generations of the Kallfelz family have strived to produce quality Riesling from the Mosel area in Germany. The 2007 Kabinett Riesling is no exception. The color is star bright and clear. Bright notes of grapefruit and lime zest on the nose, this wine expresses sweet ripe peach and candied lime with a crisp refreshing finish. Pair this zippy white with your Easter ham!

Albino Armani Pinot Grigio 2007

Everyday: $14.99       Marketplace Special: $9.99

For 400 years the vineyards of Albino Armani have stayed family owned and grown.  Out of the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy they make an outstanding Pinot Grigio.  Silky and rich, this wine shows how complex a white wine can be.  Ripe pear and apple are followed by a palate cleansing finish. This wine a perfect aperitif or compliment to light pasta or chicken dishes.