Summer is here, are you drinking Riesling yet?

Thoughout my time in the wine industry I have seen a lot of trends come and go.  One trend that I’m starting to see, is that people are discovering the pleasures of Riesling grape.  For years, Master Sommeliers and Wine Professionals have championed drinking wines made from the Riesling grape.  It almost reminds me of when I started in the industry and the professionals were all talking about Pinot Noir and how versatile it is.  After years of talking it up, the movie Sideways and the increased quality domestically many of people finally figured out what all the fuss was about.  I was working as Wine Director in La Jolla at the time and all of a sudden I couldn’t keep Pinot Noir in stock.  Merlot sales tanked and Pinot Noir became the new trend and all the rage in the U.S. 

Well, with that in mind I’m going out on a limb and saying that if you’re not drinking Riesling you should be and probably will be when the movie comes out.  Just kidding, I don’t think that they are making a movie about Riesling, but maybe they should.  The Riesling grape has been produced in Germany and Alsace France for hundreds of years.  It is considered one the the nine noble varietals, and in my opinion is a wine that we should really be enjoying more of. 

Here is my reasoning for saying that Riesling should be in your glass!

This grape is virtual blank canvas for “terroir”, meaning that this grape has the ability to show the flavors from where it was grown like no other white grape.

The range of Riesling is enormous, it can be syrupy sweet like a TBA, bone-dry like a Charta and virtually any style in between the two.  It has more variances of style than any other grape in the world. 

Acidity, Acidity, Acidity!  In order for a wine to be considered “Food Friendly” it should have a high proportion of acidity.  Acidity does a lot for a wine and is a vital component to the length of finish, quality, and balancing the fruit/sugar.  It also allows for the wine to be paired with a variety of foods, because the acidity will cut through the fat and proteins.  Riesling has extremely high acidity, which is why it can be produced with residual sugar and not be cloying.

Value, Value, Value.  In times of economic uncertainty and continually rising wine prices wouldn’t it be nice if you could drink a really high quality wine for under $20?  You can certainly do that with German Riesling!

So I ask the question, “What’s in your glass?”

If you’d like to learn more about dry Riesling and explore German Wine for yourself check out our website at

Cheers til next time!





Sparkling Wine Production


Production Methods: 

Methode Champenoise &

Methode Traditionale

The “Champagne Method” is the natural and traditional way to produce sparkling wines. Outside of Champagne, France; this method is typically called Methode Traditionale. The basic process involves first fermenting your base wines until they are dry like a normal wine. Once fermented, the wines are blended and put into bottles, to which has been added a small amount of yeast and an exact amount of sugar called the liqueur de tirage. The bottles are then capped, and a secondary fermentation ensues which creates a small amount of alcohol and carbon dioxide. When the secondary fermentation is complete and the wine is carbonated, the yeast in the bottle must be removed. The bottles are put into A-frame racks at an angle and put through the process of riddling or remuage where the bottles are rotated a quarter turn once a day as the yeast is slowly forced into the neck of the bottle. Once the yeast plug is formed, the wine goes through degorgement where the neck of the bottle is frozen to lock the yeast away from the wine, the cap is removed and the pressure inside the bottle forces the yeast plug out resulting in a clear wine. The bottle is then topped off with the liqueur d’expedition – a combination of wine and sugar. This dosage of sugar is what determines the sweetness of the sparkling wine. Once added, the bottle is corked and ready to age or consume.

Classic examples: Champagne, Spanish Cava, California Sparkling Wines, German Sekt. 

Charmat Process or Bulk Method

To create carbonation in sparkling wines using the Charmat Process, the wine goes under the secondary fermentation not in individual bottles, rather in large, pressurized tanks. This process is more efficient, cheaper, and easier than Methode Champenoise, but the result is a wine of lower quality and less character.

Classic Examples: Italian Prosecco, Italian Asti & Moscato d’Asti, and inexpensive American Sparkling Wines

Dosage Levels & Sweetness:

Most sparkling wine producers around the world use the Champagne system of describing the sweetness level of a particular wine. From driest to sweetest, those classifications are:

Extra Brut – Extremely dry, no sugar at all

Brut – Very dry, the most common style

Extra Dry – Off-dry, very common style

Sec – Lightly sweet

Demi-Sec – Sweet

Doux – Very sweet, more than 5% R.S. 


– Sekt is the name for sparkling wines from Germany. Although most Sekt is inexpensive and poorly made, high quality Sekt is produced using Methode Champenoise methods.

– High quality Sekt is produced from Riesling, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), or Rulander (Pinot Gris) grapes.

– Fine Sekt is typically vintage dated. 

Next time you’re looking for a great value sparkling wine think of German Sekt as a great alternative, to

Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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