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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


If we could start from scratch and design a perfect wine for spring and summer, what characteristics would we include? I'd vote for making our wine light rather than heavy, crisp rather than creamy, fruity rather than oaky, and refreshing rather than massive.

Then, at the risk of pushing my luck, I'd ask that it be complex and interesting and that it work well with food, especially the lighter dishes of the season.

A wish list this long may seem like a pipe dream, but the surprising fact is that nature has already provided a wine that fills the bill perfectly: Riesling.

Indeed, we could ask even more from the Riesling grape without exceeding its remarkable capabilities. It produces wines that can be supremely age-worthy, that provide intense flavor with relatively low alcohol and that are capable of balance and grace at every sweetness level from bone dry to decadently honeyed.

Moreover, since the grape has an unequaled "transparency" that permits it to convey the savor of the soils and sites in which it is planted, Rieslings are vastly more varied in aromas and flavors than almost any other variety, enabling tasters to enjoy a lifetime of discovery.

For these reasons, I regard Riesling as the greatest of all white wine grapes. It is currently unfashionable except among true wine connoisseurs, largely because of two widespread but mistaken presumptions f that all Rieslings are sweet and that sweet wines are unserious.

Dry Rieslings:

Egon Muller Scharzhof 1994 (Germany): Classically steely fruit with wonderful flavors of tangerine and apple, undergirded by plenty of racy acidity.

Domaine Weinbach Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg 1997 (Alsace): A very stylish, deftly crafted wine from Laurence Faller, with perfect ripeness, well-integrated structure and a host of subtle complexities.

Georg Breuer Rheingau Rudesheim Estate 1996 (Germany): A brilliant wine with a fresh, zesty character and interesting notes of tangerine and mango.