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Home  German Riesling Wine Knowledge  Riesling and Food Pairing
German Riesling Wine and Food Pairing
Wine is food and in most of the world it's part of the meal, it grew up with food, it complements food, and it should be respectful of food. Red wine simply doesn't complement everything that most humans eat, even allowing for the natural differences in people's physiology and preferences. White wine is the appropriate, harmonious thing to drink with some food and a worthy option with some other foods.

A wine on its own can offer great pleasure, but the enjoyment is sorely diminished when it is selected to accompany a particular food and it simply doesn't match. It does take some effort to discover harmonious food-and-wine partners, not least because there is virtually an endless number of possible combinations and how many do we experience over the course of years of wining and dining?

The old rule dictating «red wine with dark meat» and «white wine with light meat» is no longer taken seriously. New, creative ways of cooking that are
geared more to light, imaginative cuisine based on natural aromas open the door to all kinds of new food-and-wine combinations, particularly with white wine. Creating harmonious partnerships is most likely to succeed when the wine and food are similar, i.e. when there is a balance between the body and richness, as well as the intensity of the aroma and flavor, of the food and wine. Three basic principles are noteworthy:

The wine should underscore the flavor of the food. The wine could be a bit more forward than the food, but neither partner should seriously overshadow the other. The wines being served as well as the foods should be served in an order that shows a progression in terms of aroma and flavor as well as body and richness.

Riesling, especially the German variety, is acknowledged by chefs and wine connoisseurs to be one of the best wines for pairing with food. The reason: the level of acidity and ripeness and the vibrant fruit flavors inherent in Riesling wine make it perfect for pairing with the widest range of foods. The acidity and sweetness mirror the technique of the use of vinegar, citrus and sugar used in foods to balance their flavors.

Acid plays an important role in wine and food matching because acid produces g a sorbet effect leaving a clean palate between bites. German Rieslings have the highest acid levels with higher proportions of tartaric acid than most any wine. They offer a much broader palate that any other varietal from dry, half-dry, light and fruity food wines to sumptuous Ausleses, where fruit and acidity are in quintessential balance, to the most luxurious, liqueur-like sweet wines on earth, the great BA and TBA wines. The German labeling system clearly identifies weight and degree of dryness in each wine.

To quote David Rosengarten, one of the world's most experienced wine and food pairers, when recently interviewed in the New York Wine Cellar. When asked what category of wine was most food flexible he replied: "Well, generally what would help a wine to be most flexible would be reasonably low alcohol, fresh acidity, and, of course, good balance. So looking across the wines of the world, I'd say the most flexible wines across the board for food are dry and almost dry German Rieslings. Plus with the better Germans I get the additional bonus of the stuff having real character as well, so I can satisfy my wine brain and my food brain simultaneously."

Riesling wine is especially suited to many of the world's most exciting ethnic cuisines. All Asian cooking, especially Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnam and Japanese are very compatible with German Riesling. Herbs, spices and textures in these Asian preparations are forcing a look at new wines because traditional wines, especially wines with significant oak and alcohol overpower the subtleties in this new taste environment. It demands wines that have bright, pure flavors with some residual sweetness, lots of fruit and acidity. Many of these dishes also bring heat to the palate, which is best handled by trading off alcohol for sugar i.e. wines that have very little alcohol but significant amounts of residual sugar.

Indian food has a reputation of being one of the best partners for German Riesling wines. The use of fruit in savory/spicy applications such as chutneys and curries seems to compliment flavors and "mouthfeel" of German Riesling. Other vibrant world cuisines that have a great pairing with Riesling are: Caribbean, Mexican & Central American cooking, and "Southwestern" cuisine.

All seafood preparations are a sure bet with Riesling. The inherent sweetness of many crustaceans like crab, shrimp and lobster is echoed and made more interesting by pairing with Riesling, with its elegant acidity and subtle sweetness.

Today across the world, there is increasing interest for lighter, healthier food. For example, the great expertise of the Japanese in the selection and preparation of fish has greatly influenced fish cookery everywhere. Broth and herb infusion are pushing aside traditional butter sauces in many of the sophisticated fish restaurants across the United States and Europe. These preparations demand pure, bright dry wines. Classically styled Chablis and dry styled Spätleses and Ausleses offer perfect matches. Oak is not spoken for many of these sophisticated preparations. As health consciousness continues to rise, extreme novel cuisine factions moderated and recognized that finesse and elegance in a dish can be achieved only by using the finest ingredients. However, techniques for lighter and healthier preparations are now firmly entrenched in all styles of cooking. These trends provide an ever larger window for fine German Riesling.

Another possibility is Riesling's pairing with deep fried foods whether it is Tempura, or Cajun beer-batter fried seafood, as well as the salty, smoky flavor of smoked salmon or trout. The crisp and ripe fruit flavor of Riesling makes it a perfect partner with any of these dishes.

Riesling wine pairs with baked and grilled chicken, turkey, mild cheese and desserts and is one of the few wines that go well with chocolate. It is also great on its own, as a dessert wine. It is also spectacular with foods that feature fruit, like fruit salad or a meat dish with a fruit sauce. Consider serving the wine as an aperitif or with light appetizers, as its light body and refreshing acidity make it perfect for the beginning of a meal.

As you can see, there is a universe of cuisine that is highly desirable for pairing with German Riesling wines. The possibilities for pairing any kind of cuisine with Riesling are endless. Riesling, in general, unless you're serving a heavy beef or lamb ragout, grilled red meat, or robust Italian tomato based pastas, you will find that as white wines go, you can do no better than German Riesling. Besides, Riesling wine features some of the lowest alcohol levels in the world of wine. Perfect for the summertime season of light outdoor meals and for a healthy lifestyle in general.

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