Wine Buzz: Summer of Riesling hopes to acquaint palates to versatile varietal

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 - 11:42 am

“Wine Buzz” hinted last week at a series of events that’ll appeal to lovers of white wine. Now we’ve got the full scoop on Summer of Riesling Sacramento, which celebrates the much-beloved riesling grape through September.

The shenanigans get started on Sept. 1 with a Summer of Riesling Sacramento launch party at midtown Sacramento’s Thai Basil restaurant, 2431 J St. This $20 event marks an especially appropriate kickoff, given that off-dry riesling and spicy Thai dishes make for a classic food-and-wine pairing. Take a bite of spicy red curry, wash it down with a semi-sweet kabinett riesling, and that bit of residual sugar will help balance out that scorching curry while boosting overall flavors.

That kind of food-friendliness, along with its various expressions on the sweetness scale, ranks riesling as a favorite for wine lovers. Riesling’s also renowned as a white wine with exceptional aging potential, one that’s capable of developing complex secondary flavors over years of cellaring. Still, exploring riesling seems daunting for some. Riesling’s a grape native to Germany, and pronouncing the labels sometimes sounds out the anagrams of entire alphabets.

Anyone for a bottle of Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach Rauenthaler Baiken?

Making riesling more accessible is one of the main goals for Matthew Lewis, the local wine educator and sommelier who’s organizing Summer of Riesling Sacramento. His celebration is an homage to the popular Summer of Riesling series launched by wine bar entrepreneur Paul Grieco and taken nationwide with a series of tastings and educational events. Summer of Riesling Sacramento includes a Japanese-themed riesling dinner at Kru, 2516 J St., on Sept. 10, and a wine dinner featuring Navarro Vineyards of the Anderson Valley on Sept. 17 at Taste Restaurant, 9402 Main St., Plymouth.

Also look for an event to be scheduled soon at Madroña Vineyards, 2560 High Hill Road, Camino, one of the few Sacramento-region wineries to bottle riesling. Domestically, riesling’s more likely to be found in the cool climates of Washington state and the Finger Lakes wine country in New York.

“Riesling is very much a chameleon,” said Lewis. “As you move from one country to another, from one region to another, and even one vineyard to another, you get a completely different expression of the varietal.”

For a full line-up of events, visit

Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. On Twitter: @chris_macias.

Read more articles by Chris Macias

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