Monday, February 25, 2013

“The only guide to German Riesling you’ll ever need to read”

Picture: The Candid Wines Team, with Damien Casten on the right

Chicago-based Damien Casten - co-founder of Candid Wines – posted the below on his wine blog, in which he directs his readers to a posting on schiller-wine. In his words, this posting is “the only guide to German Riesling you’ll ever need to read.”
The only guide to German Riesling you’ll ever need to read

German Riesling is so easy to drink and to love.

I do both quite often.  Why then is it so darn hard to understand?

We Americans (and many non-Americans I’ve met as well) struggle to know what sort of wine is in a bottle of German Riesling because we don’t understand the cues on the labels.  I grant you that many include umlauts, long hyphenated names, and abbreviations that can be hard to decipher for the uninitiated, but I promise you there is a method to the madness.

If you remember nothing else after reading this post, remember this:

The higher the alcohol, the drier the Riesling.

Most any German Riesling at 13-14% alcohol will taste largely dry, while a bottle at 7-8% will taste something like honey.  At alcohol levels in between, the wine will taste more or less sweet.

If you look first at alcohol, you will have a guide to how sweet the wine is, and you’ve passed Riesling 101.  For advanced studies, I would direct you to the series of videos that we made with Harald Ziegler from Weingut August Zeigler in which he explains every word on a bottle of his 2005 Gimmeldinger-Biengarten Riesling Auslese.  This will help to decipher some of the hyphenated words (town-vineyard, town = Gimmeldingen, vineyard = Biengarten) and explain other complicated bits.

If you really want to dive into the layers and complexities of the labels on German wines, and thus understand the wines themselves, I’d suggest that you bookmark Christian Schiller’s excellent review of the different types of Spaetlese and Auslese wines being made today.  Refer back to Christian’s guide a few times and you will come to understand both what is on the label and what sort of wine is in that bottle of German Riesling that you are about to open. It may be the only guide you’ll ever need to read to understand sweetness levels in German Riesling, but you are likely to have to read it six times.

Damien Casten
July 24, 2012
The only guide to German Riesling you’ll ever need to read.

About Damien

Damien Casten co-founded Candid Wines with Scott Kerrigan in 2005 after living, working, and cooking professionally in France for six years. In France he cooked at La Maison Blanche and the Michelin Three Starred Lucas Carton. On his off days, he traded labor for wine and wine education at what was one of Paris' most remarkable shops, Les Ultra Vins.

Candid Wines is a wine distribution company based in Chicago. Our focus is on small wineries growing sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines. Thanks to the good work of our producers, our wines are featured at Chicago's best restaurants and the area's finest retailers, large and small.

Commis de cuisine (Cook) - Lucas Carton
2002 – 2003 (1 year)
Lucas Carton was at the time a Michelin 3 Star restaurant in Paris. Led by Chef / Owner Allain Senderens.

The posting on schiller-wine Damien Casten is referring to is:  German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

he Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

One of the Fathers of the German Red Wine Revolution: Weingut Huber in Baden

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

A Pinot Noir Star: Visiting August Kesseler and his Weingut August Kesseler in Assmannshausen, Germany

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Weinbar Rutz and Restaurant Hot Spot, both in Berlin, Germany, on the Newsweek List of 101 Best Places to Eat in the World, 2012 

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