Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
Wine writers and others in the wine trade of course love it but even two days after my lunch at The Ledbury this week, as part of the UK's Riesling Week, I can’t remember the names of the wines without looking them up. Or recall whether they were a spätlese or an auslese.
What I suggested to my companion from Wines of Germany was this: that for export markets German wines should have 3 categories of wine or, at maximum, four: Dry, Medium-Dry, or even just ‘Medium’, Sweet and possibly Very Sweet and that these should be colour coded, dry being pale yellowish green, medium peachy, sweet more like grilled pineapple and very sweet mango-coloured.
They should then make simple wine pairing suggestions for each category:
Dry Riesling: anything with which you can drink a crisp dry white - seafood, salads, light fishy and vegetable starters, simply prepared fish, sushi, goats’ cheese.
Medium-dry Riesling: meat dishes that benefit from a touch of sweetness like chicken with a creamy sauce, belly pork, goose and some game dishes such as pheasant and apples. Mildly spiced food like stir-fries, mild curries, south-east Asian dishes and sweet and sour preparations.
Sweet Riesling: particularly good for desserts with berries and tropical fruits. Mild blue cheeses.
Very sweet Riesling: best sipped on its own.
There are, of course, dishes with which German Riesling goes particularly well because of its slight oiliness like smoked fish, but do you want, as a promotional body, to start talking about oiliness and petrol? I’m not sure that you do.
Anyway, the wines we had which were skilfully matched by sommelier Luke Robertson were:
Orea AR Riesling sptlese trocken 2009 from the Saar - with Japanese-style grilled mackerel (above) - a rich off-dry wine that went well with the warm, oily, slightly spicy fish. (Falls outside the categories above but you have to keep things simple.)
Dr Heger Q Sonnett sptburgunder, Baden 2007 (I think) with belly pork (the eagle-eyed among you will immediately spot this isn’t a Riesling. The sommelier slipped it in.) Sumptuous Pinot, perfectly matched with some sublimely piggy pork.
Dreissgacker Bechtheimer Stein Riesling auslese 2008, Rheinhessen with strawberries and lemon verbena meringue - light (just 8.5%), luscious and citrussy, just right for such a fresh, summery dessert.
You can read my full account of the meal on my blog Food and Wine Finds.
Riesling Week continues for the rest of the week in participating restaurants including Yauatcha and many independent wine merchants. I ate at the Ledbury as a guest of Wines of Germany.