I’ll be hitting the judging circuit this week at the 2016 San Francisco International Wine Competition, so it seemed a good time to get a jump on the June wine product round-up (my monthly attempt at working a path through the product samples that I receive that aren’t drinkable).
This month, I’m happy to report that I’ve got two strong recommendations to out forward; one for your mouth, and one for your brain.
First up, the RÖD Wine series of stemware (available in packs of three glasses for about $48 per pack). These come in three impressively-packed incarnations: glasses for red, and white wines, and flutes for bubbles (the latter of which I found superfluous, as will be explained in a moment).
The three designs all share a similar sturdy, restaurant-quality build that seems quite ready to stand up to everyday use; and the rims are juuuuust slender enough that the sturdiness doesn’t impact the delivery of the wine to your eager face. The base of the stemware takes a bit of getting used to, as it’s a thicker design than you’ll find in most stemware, but apart from that minor cavil, I thought that the RÖD Wine glasses sent to me struck an excellent balance between durability, price, and elegance. If picking one style, I’d recommend the white design; for me, they were the most versatile performers, handling white wines, delicate reds, and sparkling wines without breaking a sweat (or whatever the eqivalent of glassware sweating is)…
Next up, an interesting book by John Winthrop Haeger, titled Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright and Dry (UC Press, about $40). At first glance, the title – if you’re a geek, like me – will probably piss you off. Why are we “rediscovering” one of the most famous fine wine grapes of all time? And why does it have to be dry? some of the greatest wines in the world are sweet Rieslings, beeeeaaatch! Etc.
But that visceral reaction would be ignoring the market realities: sweet Riesling doesn’t always sell. And many wine market consumers seem hellbent on avoiding anything Riesling that isn’t specifically labeled as “dry.”
Haeger is an academic administrator, and so breaks down the dry Riesling conundrum in academic style; defining our concept of dry, and exploring what that means for a grape that often needs some residual sugar to balance its face-ripping acidity, before getting into how Riesling is made into wine, and diving into geekier topics like clones and the production and business aspects of Riesling wine in Europe and North America.
Part two of the book explores in detail some of the more famous Riesling winegrowing areas of the globe, and highlights a number of producers, with some well-constructed maps for assistance.
If there’s a problem with Riesling Rediscovered, it’s that the academic tone seems to be Haeger’s go-to writing voice, which at tuns makes the book drier than the style of Riesling that it celebrates. That’s nowhere near enough of a reason that Riesling lovers shouldn’t buy this book, however, as teh tone is balanced by some great quotes (my personal fave, from Geisenheim’s Hans Reiner Schultz: “Riesling is like a donkey”). Just be ready for a classroom style lecture more than anything else, and one in which you stand to learn a great deal.