Riesling Reigns

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Every year since 1949, Germany has crowned one new state royal in a competition officially called the German Wine Queen. Young women from around Germany’s wine regions vie for the coveted and heralded title. An 80-person jury from German politics, media and business gather to appoint and official elect the lucky girl. It’s not an easy task.


Candidates must be over 18, female and unmarried. Blonde hair is not essential, but based on previous queens seems to have an advantage. The contestants are then chosen based on their knowledge of wine, ability to speak English and deliver a speech on a topic (wine-related, of course) previously selected by the jury.   In her 2011 speech, Queen Annika Strebel, recommended matching Riesling with Chicken McNuggets.


We haven’t tried Annika’s queenly pairing but do know that Riesling is a good match for a wide variety of foods. From appetizers to desserts, pork, poultry or shellfish, the diversity of Riesling makes it capable of handling just about anything. We particularly enjoy it with the spice and heat of Asian and Mexican foods.


Riesling is one of the world’s most elegant wines, yet its acceptance in the US has long been hindered by the perception that it’s always sweet. And in an era when many wine drinkers prefer dry wines, anything hinting of sweetness can easily be pushed aside. That’s a shame because many people are missing out on a great wine.


The signature grape of Germany, Riesling reigns. Rieslings are made dry, off-dry, or sweet depending on the intent of the winemaker. To understand which wine is which might require taking a course at the German-language school, Goethe Institute, which Beverly did many years ago. But, hey, you’re just looking for a good wine, so we’re here to offer our Cheat Sheet.


“Kabinett” means light and fresh.

“Spätlese” means richer and heavier.

“Auslese” means high in sugar and usually for dessert.

“Trocken” means bone-dry.


While Germany rules in the Riesling wine world, other countries, including the US, are producing some terrific wines and giving us more choices. Rieslings from the Alsace region of France tend to be rich and dry. The cool climates of Washington and New York states allow for optimum Riesling grape growing. They’re producing first-class, reasonably priced wines. Even Australia is becoming enamored with the grape.


If you like a crisp wine that’s full of flavor, you’ve found your new love. Rieslings are unoaked – they rarely see the inside of a barrel, so you’re able to really enjoy the flavor of the grape.


Let’s raise our glass to the German Wine Queen – Riesling!



Barbara and Beverly