With temperatures in London pushing well past those of our neighbours to the south, the poor unaccustomed souls stranded in the UK are doing what they can to beat the heat and devising a sure-fire strategy to best quench your thirst is as important concern as any. While delicate Provencal Rose, ice-cold Chablis and celebratory bubbles are always popular summertime swigs, my summertime drink of choice is unwavering (if not unsurprising) when the heat wave sets in: German Riesling. Tailor made for the summer, Riesling has succulent stone fruits and zesty citrus freshness that is expertly balanced by mouth-watering acidity and refreshingly low levels of alcohol.
At the start of each summer for almost a decade now, the wine trade has faithfully declared “the summer of Riesling!” Sommeliers and merchants alike are constantly singing the praises of this tragically misunderstood grape: “The perfect food wine! Delicious with Asian cuisine! Drink now or cellar for 20 years (at least!).” However, no matter how much those in the trade have steadfastly attempted to transfer this dedicated enthusiasm onto their customer base, the average wine drinker remains wary of venturing into Riesling territory. This distrust is largely rooted in decades-old associations with teeth achingly sweet Liebfraumilch and the even more disastrous “antifreeze” scandal in Austria of the 1980’s. This coupled with the overwhelming amount of inscrutable gothic printed German which adorns the labels of many a Riesling bottle is enough to push most people into steering clear of the genre altogether in favour of something they know they can rely upon. Another glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc anyone?
But whether you buy into the trendiness of the now ubiquitous “Summer of Riesling” campaign, the fact of the matter is (at least in my humble opinion), Riesling truly is the perfect summer companion and it deserves more love than it gets from the general wine-drinking public. With crisp acidity and the most delectable aromatic stone and tropical fruits, the 2014 vintage of German Rieslings are remarkably revitalising on a hot summer’s day, not in the least thanks to the very welcome low levels of alcohol they boast. Nestled into the picturesque Nahe, star producer Donnhoff’s entry level QBA is a fantastically affordable fruity and refreshing pick as is Rheingau producer Leitz's cleverly named Eins Zwei Dry. With both clocking in at roughly £12.50 a bottle, it is worth the money alone to see for yourself what all the (never-ending) hype of German Riesling is all about!