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Ray Isle illustration by Kathryn Rathke.
The summer of Riesling is upon us! Flee, humans, lest you all be slain in your—wait, sorry, wrong follow-up there. Here we go: The Summer of Riesling is the time when restaurants around the country celebrate the ineffable wonders that spring forth, like armored Athena from Zeus’s head (more or less), every time a bottle of Riesling is opened.
Anyway, all summer long (until September 21st) cooler-than-your-average-bear restaurants around the country will be pouring three Rieslings by the glass. Why, you ask? To build awareness about this wonderful grape—its inimitable food-friendliness, its thirst-quenching, palate-whetting sizzle of acidity, and hey, also the fact that not all Rieslings are sweet. Many more each year are being made in a dry style (which those from Austria, Australia and France’s Alsace region always have been).
So bring the summer of Riesling into your home. Hide your Chardonnays in their special locked cages, and smack them in their glassy snoots if they try to escape. Their time will come, perhaps when you’re in your dotage and all the lively, vivacious zest of Riesling does for you then is remind you with bitterness of years that will never come again. Yep, that’s the time to haul out the big buttery Chards. Right now? Bring on the Riesling.
To that end, try these fine examples (all dry, not sweet), served at Summer of Riesling restaurant participants around the country. At Frasca in Boulder, Colorado, they’re pouring up-and-coming producer Van Volxem’s 2010 Saar Riesling (in stores: about $17). A few hundred miles southeast at chef Hugh Acheson’s excellent Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia, they’re pouring a 2009 Dr. F. Weins-Prum Urziger Würzgarden Kabinett Riesling for a modest $9 a glass, a price that goes with its delicate sweetness. At Proof on Main in Lexington, Kentucky, you can get a quartino of Josie Leitz’s succulent 2010 Leitz Out Riesling—about a glass and a half—for a modest $15, or the 2010 Frisk Riesling from Victoria in Australia for $9. And that’s just the fainter rumblings from this vast Riesling groundswell which will soon engulf our fair nation. Cats will be drinking Riesling! Badgers! Incumbent politicians! Aerialists, BASE jumpers and other men who look death in the eye and pare their nails indifferently, offering naught but a cool laugh.
And, of course, the Rieslings mentioned above are available in wine shops, too. In case you need to stock up before jumping off a 200-foot cell phone tower, or wherever your testosterone happens to take you.