Monday, May 25, 2015

Dinner Party Wine Surprise: Riesling

You've been there before. In unfamiliar territory for dinner - not in a restaurant, with a wine list and plenty of choices, but at a friend's mother's cousin's place - with no choices. "Don't bring anything - we have the wine." Hmm. Well, how bad could it be?

Well, it could be cheap Chardonnay. It could be cheap Cabernet. It could be Pinot Grigio of any price. It could be (gasp) White Zinfandel! And what do I say when an offense is offered? I don't like wine? They know I write about the stuff - they'll never buy it. I'm on antibiotics? Not even a sniffle. Religious objection? Riiight.

So it really is fantastic when it all works out. "A Riesling?” I gush. “Oh, by all means, open the Riesling!" Who would have expected that some previous dinner guest had left a Riesling behind? We're spared from all that Pinot Grigio that must surely have been hiding behind it in the refrigerator. Spared from having to knock back half a glass to be polite, then dumping the rest in a planter when no one is looking.

It wasn't even an expensive Riesling, either. Santa Barbara Landing 2013 Riesling sells for about five bucks at Trader Joe's, from the Bronco Wine Company. Say what you will about the heritage, but the wine is actually pretty good.

The pale color is no surprise, like the herbal/floral scent it gives off. But wait, is that a hint of petrol in there? A little whiff of gasoline? Surely not, in such a young Riesling. But I will swear it was there. On the palate, pears rule, and the full mouth is juxtaposed against a wonderful acidity. At 13% abv, it is fairly relaxed, too. I would have this again anytime, particularly chilled on a hot summer day.

We were also treated to a bottle of La Granja 360 Verdejo/Viura 2013. From Spain’s Castilla y León region, I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, I do not have too much to say about it. Grapefruity and a little tart, it was not as memorable as I had hoped it would be. The acidity was pretty fantastic, though.


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