What is the most versatile food pairing wine?
As a person who has written about wine, and who now works in the wine industry, I find that a lot of people come to me for wine advice. For myself, the more I learn about wine, the more that I realize how much I have left to learn. I think that most people who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of wine knowledge will willingly acknowledge that being a wine lover is a constant process of learning and developing. That said, I am always more than happy to share the wine knowledge that I have with others, and some of the most frequent questions that I hear have to do with food and wine pairing.
The food pairing questions that I hear range from very specific to more general. I find that there are certain varieties that come up over and over when I’m looking for pairings. As I field these questions, one of the most frequent repeat recommendations that I find myself making is for a nice Riesling.
Riesling seems to be a very polarizing grape variety among wine drinkers, mostly due to the perception of the grape as a sweet variety. The truth is that Riesling has one of the widest ranges of sweetness that you will find in wines. There are high quality Rieslings being produced in styles that will range from sweet late harvest wines, all the way to absolutely bone dry. Although I tend to gravitate toward the dry Rieslings, I find that there are definitely situations where I enjoy a wine with a little more residual sugar. Regardless of your preference on the sweet-to-dry scale, you can find a Riesling that will fit almost any situation.
So what makes Riesling such a highly recommended food pairing wine for me? One of the primary things that I always look for when I’m seeking a versatile food pairing wine is acidity. Having that nice foundation of acid in a wine helps to cut through fatty foods, and can also accentuate the flavors of foods that have similar acid levels. Riesling tends to have a good level of acidity for pairing with a wide variety of foods. When you add the variation in sweetness levels to the equation, it increases its versatility for food pairings. A Riesling that has a little more residual sugar can be a perfect pairing for spicier dishes. One of the most frequently used examples is to pair Riesling with a spicy Tai dish.
As we work our way into the spring and watch summer rapidly approaching, I think that Riesling becomes an indispensible part of any well stocked wine cellar. I always make sure that I have a bottle in the fridge at all times. Whether it is for that dinner party invitation that you received last week, for sipping on the patio on the weekend, or for sharing with friends at your next girl’s night, you can’t go wrong with grabbing a bottle of your favorite Riesling.