Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wine Wednesday: Enjoy the Summer of Riesling

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 5:50 AM

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Last spring, I shared a little primer about Riesling wines with you all. I never claimed to be an expert on the subject, but I was unaware that we do have at least one extremely talented educator in town in the person of Thomas Haehn. He is part of the family that owns the Von Schleinitz Winery and HighDef Wines and is a real advocate for the high-quality German Rieslings that are so much better than the cheaper "blue bottles" you might have experienced in the past. Thomas has lived in Nashville for over 20 years, so he is extremely well-connected with both the restaurant and wine store community as he seeks to encourage consumers to try more German wines in general.

The Summer of Riesling has been an effort to promote Rieslings in New York City during the month of July over the past few years, but here in Music City Haehn is spearheading efforts to keep the grapes rolling until Labor Day. Many restaurants have stepped up to expand their offerings, particularly by the glass, so patrons can try something they haven't previously experienced.

Flyte, Miel, Bound'ry, Midtown Cafe, F. Scott's and 1808 Grille have all added Rieslings and are encouraging diners to take a trip to the Mosel. But no place has stepped up like Rumours East, which is featuring eight Rieslings by the glass. They were the first to jump on the Summer of Riesling — obviously with both feet right in the crush bucket. Tonight Rumours will be hosting a night of Riesling with Riesling pairings and live music.

Riesling is a natural wine to feature at restaurants because it is so food-friendly. In fact, it is known as "the sommelier's best friend" because the complex grape has so many different esters and nuances and is produced at various levels of sweetness or dryness that make it easy to match with many different foods. It is said that Riesling is the only wine that sommeliers will ever try to pair with asparagus, so there's that. ...

Your favorite wines stores are on board as well with numerous tastings coming up this month, some including Haehn himself. I've been fortunate to be invited to a wine class conducted by him and Monte Silva for the staff at Bound'ry, and I can vouch for how informative and entertaining he is as an instructor. Plus we drank some outstanding wines from Von Schleinitz and other German producers.

If you want to try out some Rieslings where you can buy them, the Wine Shoppe at Green Hills will have a few open on Aug. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. Haehn will be the guest of honor at a tasting sponsored by Village Wines at 360 Bistro at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15. The event will feature Rieslings from Schloss Lieser, von Schleinitz and J J Prum and costs $15 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Also on Aug. 15, Iroquois Wine and Spirits will host a Riesling tasting from 4:30 to 7 p.m. featuring Von Schleinitz) wines: VS Riesling Secco, VS Riesling Dry, HD Riesling and VS Riesling (fruity).

Other wine dinners will be scheduled during the month, which I'll keep you abreast of on Fridays as part of the regular Wandering Wino feature. So if all these folks are so fired up about Riesling, maybe you ought to see what they're so excited about. Don't be intimidated by the labels.

As Haehn describes it, "In their historical obsession with accuracy, Germans designed a label with so much information that it's impossible to figure out." Just ask your favorite server, bartender or wine store employee for advice. Thanks to Thomas Haehn, they should be very well-informed.

Zum Wohl!

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