Dry Riesling creates pairing dilemma

Dry Riesling creates pairing dilemma


Who: Bridgeview Vineyards
What: 2012 Blue Moon Oregon Riesling
Where: Cave Junction, Oregon
Why: A dry Riesling perfect with many cuisines
How much: $9

Drinking wine is about the experience. It's not only the taste that helps us like or enjoy a wine, but what we're doing at the time we drink it, where we are and who we're with. Although the taste is a huge part of what creates our impression of a wine, there's more to it than that.

My experience with Blue Moon Riesling began when I saw it on the shelf at the liquor store. The bottle was a brilliant sapphire blue with a light blue screw cap. There was no label, but the name was screen printed sideways giving it an unusual look. There was also a drawing of a moon and lots of little stars that appeared to be twinkling. To love the look and feel of the bottle made it exciting to twist the screw cap, pour and continue the experience.

There wasn't the expected heavy floral aroma that is so common with Rieslings — instead I got a chemical-type smell. This made me a bit nervous until my research revealed this is common in dryer Rieslings. Fortunately that doesn't carry over to the taste and quickly disappears.

Upon tasting, I did find the usual fruit flavors of peach, apple and citrusy lemon.

Rieslings are known for being high in acid which can make them as tart as lemonade. This could present a dilemma when choosing food pairings, but on the other hand the perfect balance of sugar and acidity make it perfect for European, Mexican, Middle Eastern or Asian cuisine. Particularly for a dry Riesling, a classic pairing would be seafood, veal, pork chops, goat cheese or sushi. Something more adventurous could be cold cuts or dim sum.

At times, pairing wine and food can be complicated or confusing, so let's talk about that.

The key to pairing wine and food is to bring out the best in our wines. For instance, never pair bitter with bitter.

A wine with high tannin, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, will taste bitter when served with something like artichokes. A high tannin wine should be paired with fat or salt. That's why we often see Cabernets served with a juicy red steak.

Also make sure a wine is always sweeter than the food, otherwise it will taste bitter and tart. If serving a dessert that is extremely sweet, then look to a port for the perfect pairing.

Next, the wine must have a higher acidity level than the food. If a buttery Chardonnay is paired with an overpowering vinaigrette salad, the wine will taste flat and lifeless.

Lastly, improve an earthy wine with food that is even more earthy. An old world wine that is heavy with tobacco or leather will taste fruity when paired with mushrooms.

There is also something to be said for matching textures. Think of pairing light foods with light wines and heavy foods with heavy wines.

Keep in mind all pairing guidelines are written as suggestions, the purpose being to help us determine our individual tastes.

Although, there is one suggestion I consider of utmost importance and that is that we continue to try new wines, new foods and new combinations of the two.

Yes, it's all part of creating that total experience to enhance both our food and wine choices.