Week 20 – Rings, Steinacker 2013

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So we’ve talked about Riesling for the last couple of weeks as if it were simply the ideal summer wine but there is of course so much more to it. It is one of the world’s most complex varieties, capable of offering a most nuanced and true picture of terroir. It can offer endless joy to winegeeks but frustration to the general public, in particular when it comes down to picking a wine to pair up with food. German legislation (on which you can find an expansive series of articles here, in Dutch) is the major culprit with its ridiculously complicated rules and terms, but Riesling can be so diverse in style that it becomes difficult to come up with an exact match.

Wine literature will recommend pairing Riesling with Asian cuisine, mainly because the sense of sweetness offered in a wine serves as a counterweight against a dish’s spiciness. Of course, not all Riesling is sweet (e.g. Quarzit or Zotzenberg) and these may be more appropriate for simple and pure dishes like freshly grilled mackerel with lemon zest or scallops. Last week’s Traisen 2013 however, had noticeable residual sugar and even taken into account the acidity, I would match it with more complex dishes, e.g. a Moroccan tajine or a delicate curry.

Of course there are two ways to play the matching game, either you go with complementarity (pairing up the same flavour styles) or you work on the assumption that opposites attract. Traisen versus curry is the perfect example of complementarity, but working with opposites can be just as interesting.

Today’s wine was created at Rings, an estate that has recently taken the German wine scene by storm. Steinacker 2013 comes from a vineyard in the northern part of the Pfalz characterized by a chalky soil, which is immediately apparent in the stony sensation in the nose. I got quite a lot of fruit, not as opulent as in the Von Winning wines, but still giving hints of stone fruit and a bit of agrum. The acidity in the mouth was a bit too overbearing despite the juiciness towards the end. It was a great match with bouchot mussels cooked with turmeric and coconut milk as the acidity was perfectly offset by the slightly sweet sensation of the sauce. The fruit and juiciness got a chance to shine, and the acidity made sure that the wine could go up against the strong flavours in the dish. On a standalone basis, neither the dish nor the wine would have worked as well as they did together, why not try it out yourself?

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