What Wine Are You Serving for Thanksgiving?

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Revel - Cellar Designs for Fine Wines

I am planning on serving a dry Riesling, and since this lovely wine is not on everyone’s radar, I thought I would share it as a suggestion. For those not familiar with it, Riesling is (according to Wikipedia) a white grape variety that originated in the Rhine region. It is an aromatic grape displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. 

I first enjoyed a dry Riesling many years ago when I read that restaurant chefs often reported that if they could only have one wine to offer with their food, it would be a dry Riesling, and that the main reason is that it pairs so nicely with such a wide range of foods.

We tested this notion at a recent get together. We tried serving some things that don’t automatically call for either red or white wine – spicy pork stir fry and pasties (a baked pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables). For the wine, we chose dry Rieslings from three different countries – 2019 Markus Molitor Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Auslese from Germany, 2019 Zind-Humrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain from Alsace (France), and 2007 Nikolaihof Riesling Steinriesler from Austria. Everyone thought they went along beautifully with both.

Riesling wine labels are not terribly easy to interpret, and nowhere on either the front or the back of the bottle does it indicate that it is dry. In fact, one of them, the German wine, actually is an Auslese (so named based on the time of year the grapes are harvested), generally indicating the wine to be a sweet dessert wine.

You can find nice dry Rieslings made in other regions as well – US, Australia and South Africa for example and they are generally good values and compare well against Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. The more complex, long lived and therefore more collectible ones however, come from Europe.

These three wines are all drinking nicely now, even though they come from several different vintages. Price range is $70 to $80 per bottle.

It can be hard to find any Riesling at your local restaurants or wine shops, let alone a dry Riesling, and sometimes the staff members will give you a blank stare if you ask for one. 

Choosing a good wine for Thanksgiving has always been tough for me as it is for many others. Lots of different dishes made by lots of different cooks, etc., but if you can find one in time this year, I think you will be glad you did. 

As a footnote, you will also notice the unique shape of the bottle. Since we are in the wine cellar business, I’ll add a note to collectors. These bottles don’t always fit into any of the manufactured racking systems, but they do in our custom wine cellar designs! Happy Thanksgiving!