Another Friday night and another German Riesling! This Carl Sittmann Riesling is pretty common in the US, and it’s pretty cheap. The 2011 vintage is only $9.99 at Gary’s Wine.
Sadly, the wine quality matches the price! It’s not bad, but not great either. There’s a faint floral smell with a sweetish taste. It’s not super sweet, but definitely not dry. The main problem is there’s just not much other taste…
My verdict? A cheap sweet swirl in the mouth is all you’ll get out of this one. It’s especially disappointing considering you could get a great Riesling for around $20 (e.g., Gunderloch). But if you’re looking for an easy-to-drink cheap sweet wine, then this is it!
I was at Terroir Wine Bar last week with friends and asked the bartender for an off-dry Riesling like the Gunderloch I love so much. He recommended this Feinherb (which actually means “off-dry” i.e., a tiny bit sweet), which was delicious. It was a reasonably crisp wine with a delicious understated sweetness. The fruit wasn’t overpowering. Overall, very enjoyable easy drinking.
I wanted to point out one key fact about Chablis. Chablis is NOT a type of grape! Chablis is actually a region in Burgundy, France. The grapes produced from that region are mostly of the chardonnay grape varietal. That’s why this wine tastes a bit like a Chardonnay. However, unlike many Chardonnays, most Chablis tend not to have oaky tastes (i.e., they are not produced in oak barrels). They also don’t have that vanilla, buttery taste and smell that’s sometimes associated with Chardonnays.
Chablis are noted for their acidity and crispness. If you want to know what a typical Chablis tastes like, then this one is a great example for not that much! I picked it up from Astor Wines for $20.
This is a half bottle (375ml) late harvest Riesling that I picked up when I was wine tasting in Napa (for around $20). We had stopped by Prager Winery & PortWorks because I had started to enjoy ports, and I had hoped that I would be able to find some ports to my liking. However, none of the ports were of the type that I liked. The only wine that caught my taste-buds turned out to be this late harvest Riesling instead.
Late harvest Rieslings are dessert wines. The term “late harvest” arises because the grapes are harvested later and therefore have more time to build up sweetness.
They are often sickly sweet, which is why I tend to stay away from them. However, this one was more subtle. Don’t get me wrong, it is sweet, but the wine holds something more than just sweetness. For a start, you can smell both honey and apricot exuding from this wine. The deep amber/gold color pairs well with these smells. Then there are hints of herbs in the nose as well. The taste is not overly sweet – the sweetness sort of melts away in your mouth so that it tastes almost semi-sweet, and you get a lingering fruity sensation. However, you can definitely taste that it is a dessert wine!
Overall, a pretty good wine. I enjoyed it with some dark chocolate. Since this wine isn’t a super sweet wine, you have to remember to pair it with desserts that aren’t too sweet – otherwise the dessert will overpower the wine and make your wine taste crappy! Since dark chocolate isn’t as sweet, it works well with this wine.
I had a lovely relaxing weekend in Woodstock, NY this past weekend. While I was there, I had dinner at a vegan restaurant called Garden Café (I’m not even vegetarian, but the restaurant got great reviews and the food, especially the cabbage soup was fantastic). As you might be able to see from the rather shoddy photo I took of their wine list, all their wines are made from 100% organic grapes. (Some of the wines are also vegan, which I will explain in my next post!)
Onto the wines I tried there….
1) Snoqualmie Naked Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington, USA, which was $7 a glass and $26 a bottle at the restaurant, but which retails for $9-13 in wine stores and online. This was also a vegan wine.
I loved the way this wine smelled – of sweet honey (not flowery or sickly sweet, but of almost a fruity honey). The taste was bitter-sweet. There was the bitterness of grapefruit mixed with the sweetness of apples and pears. The sweetness level was probably that of an off-dry wine i.e., sweet-tasting but not much actual sugar in the wine. It’s not my favorite Riesling, but I am definitely partial to off-dry Rieslings, and so this was definitely a “Like” for me. I have to say, I was quite surprised that I liked the wine because I rarely like any non-German Rieslings and was a bit scared of trying a cheap organic one. It was a very pleasant surprise!
2) Gerard Bertrand Grenache from Languedoc, France, which was $9 a glass and $34 a bottle at the restaurant, but which retails for around $12-15 in stores (although it seems to be only carried in a few NY and CA stores and some online stores).
I don’t know if you can tell from the photo on the left, but this was a rose. There was a fruity smell, which was faintly reminiscent of strawberries. Despite this alluring smell, the taste was awfully bland. It was definitely a light wine. In fact, the wine tasted so watery, I wondered if it contained any alcohol in it at all! It was very disappointing, especially since I had tried the Riesling first.
I needed to buy a bottle of wine to meet the minimum for a credit card transaction at my local wine store, and so I fell back on some German riesling. I felt like the chances were that it’d taste ok.
I knew that it was going to be a sweet wine (the low alcohol percentage of 8% gave it away pretty quickly), but I didn’t realize it was going to be literally sugar water with some alcoholic buzz.
It’s definitely not a great riesling – it’s not fruity and has no real “taste” except for sweetness, but that’s actually appealing to some drinkers (I used to be one of those drinkers!). Personally, although I like my sweet rieslings, I’ve grown to enjoy a greater variety of flavors, especially delicate fruity flavors. But, for $12.99 from the wine store on 9th Ave between 36th and 37th in New York, it’s not bad (I couldn’t have expected too much more to be fair!).
Not sure when I picked up this bottle of wine, but it’s from very close to where my parents live (lucky them!). The bottle label design is also rather interesting along with its name. On to the liquid in the bottle:
The wine definitely smells like a buttery California chardonnay, although it has a slightly minerally and metallic tinge to it. I’ve liked a few California chardonnays before but this one just doesn’t do it for me. It tastes very minerally and almost a little bitter. It also tastes quite acidic to me. A thumbs down unfortunately.
This Napa wine is great with melon and prosciutto! That was how I first tried the wine, and that was also what I served with the wine during Christmas dinner. The first thing you notice about the wine is its delicate floral smell. You’ll also notice some small bubbles in your glass because the wine is slightly fizzy. It has a slightly sweet taste (but definitely not syrupy) with fruity flavors ranging from grapefruit to lychees. You can drink the wine by itself, but it tastes way better with the prosciutto and melon.
To taste wine with food, you put a little bit of the food (in this case, melon and prosciutto) into your mouth and then chew. While the food is still in your mouth, take a small sip of the wine. Chew some more with the wine in your mouth. Swallow the food and wine, then take another sip of the wine. This procedure allows you to taste the food by itself, taste the food with the wine, and taste the wine by itself. When I did this with the melon and prosciutto, the wine brought out the slightly salty flavor to the prosciutto and the sweet flavor of the melon. Everything was enhanced.
I’m sure you’re eager to try this pairing yourself, but sadly, I can’t find the wine anywhere. I bought it a few months ago when I visited Napa and tried the wine at the V. Sattui winery. It is sadly sold out (I called to double check!). The winery said that they will be bottling the 2010 vintage early next year. All of their wines are sold on their website so check for this wine sometime next year! If you’re lucky enough to spot this wine in a store, I suggest buying one to try since it’s a pretty cheap wine considering how delicious it is – around $25 per bottle.