Wine Time

Wine of the Week: Riesling, the Perfect Poolside Wine

If you've been following along recently here at "Wine Time" on the Eating Our Words blog, you know that my credo and top criteria for picking wines are balanced alcohol and bright acidity.

These words-to-live-and-drink-by go hand-in-hand with a motto often repeated at our house: no wine without food, no food without wine. In my view, wine is a food, and if it overpowers my victuals with alcohol, you aren't going to see it on my dinner table. (By the way, for those of you wondering whether or not there are wines appropriate to be served at breakfast, there are indeed such wines. When the cool weather returns and the holidays approach, I'll devote a post to my favorite breakfast wines.)

With the arrival of higher temperatures, I begin to pay extra attention to the alcohol content of our wines. In the summertime, we tend to eat saltier foods (grilling by the pool, anyone?), which, along with the heat, invariably make me thirstier.

This is just one of the reasons that Riesling -- made in the German style, whether from Europe or the U.S. -- is one of my favorite poolside wines.

Last night, we opened a 2009 Riesling Blue Slate by Dr. Loosen that I had picked up at a local retailer for less than $20. And we paired it with frise, a type of bruschetta that I had brought back from my recent trip to Apulia, topped with olive oil-cured tuna, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and kosher salt. (If you want to make this at home and don't have any frise, just toast some stale bread on the grill, in the oven, or even in the toaster.)

At 7.5 percent alcohol (yes, just 7.5 percent!), this wine is ideal for summer and sipping by the pool. And it has what my wife Tracie P likes to call "tongue-splitting" acidity: the "zing" that you get in this wine makes it a wonderful match for a wide variety of foods, from grilled vegetables to fresh soft cheeses (try it with real buffalo's milk mozzarella, for example), from potato chips and dips (guacamole and Riesling, anyone? hell yeah!) to a quesadilla topped with my favorite store-bought canned salsa, the "Casera" by Herdez (I don't know why, but it always tastes better from the can as opposed to the jar).

And the best part is that, with such bright acidity, this wine (with screw-cap enclosure) will keep well in the fridge overnight. So, I know that I can enjoy another glass from the same bottle the next evening as a light aperitif before dinner.

For less than $20, the Dr. Loosen second-tier Kabinett "Blue Slate" is always a great bet from a time-tested producer -- one of the greats from the Mosel. The Dr.'s entry-level Riesling can clock in at less than $11 and is always a go-to when I need a thirst-quenching, crowd-pleasing quaffer.

Tracie P and I still can't afford a house with a pool, but at $11 we can afford the wine.

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Jeremy Parzen writes about wine and modern civilization for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen