Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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A French/German wine for summer cucumbers

April 20th, 2012 by brynn grimley

Wow, with an assortment of ingredients to fill the refreshing summer cucumbers we sought to find the perfect wine recommendation that not only matches the varied flavors, but also compliments the light, refreshing treat.

Luckily we’ve got a wine that’ll work for three of the five suggested fillings — curried ham, lox and cream cheese and horseradish — and another pairing for the hummus.

The ingredients making up the ham filling — including the Dijon mustard, curry and ham — and the lox and horseradish recipes all lead our palates to Riesling.

These delectable bites deserve a wine from a region steeped in history. The boundaries for the Alsace wine region have been moved four times in 75 years, splitting the divide between France and Germany. As a result, it’s a wine that incorporates winemaking traditions of both nations.

France’s Alsace, where Riesling is grown, is located east of Champagne and just west of Germany in the Vosges Mountains. The area has little rainfall, especially during harvest. Local legend predicts a good vintage when it’s a “one shirt harvest.”

While it’s now a part of France, Alsatian wines carry the German tradition of listing the grape name on its label. Typically the names are Riesling or Gewurztraminer, because they’re the most commonly grown grapes in the region, with some Pinot Blanc.

In the French manner, every bit of the sugar is fermented out of the wine during the winemaking process. Because, as every French man knows, wine is more food-friendly when fermented dry and has sufficient acidity to make it refreshing.

The end result is floral and mineral wine with body and depth. In Alsace the wines are bigger, making them feel weightier and allowing them to pair well with heavier dishes.

With age, these wines grow more complex. In 1989, when the Hugel & Fils winery celebrated its 350th anniversary, dinner was served with Rieslings from 1900, 1934 and 1945.

One of the better-known producers, Hugel & Fils 2010 Riesling is dry with lively acidity. It is refreshingly quaffable. Aromas and flavors of apples, citrus, and spring blossoms abound, making it a great match for summer stuffed cucumbers.

If you’re looking to fill the cucumbers with hummus, we must suggest a different wine. It’s not that a Riesling wouldn’t go with it; it’s just that there is a better match.

And we had it the other night when we we’re tasting the wines from Okanogan Estate & Vineyards.

The 2009 Blue Lake Vineyard Pinot Grigio is a dry, stainless steel fermented wine that has flinty, mineral aromas with citrus flavors and full bodied. Look for it at your local grocery story — if you can’t find it, ask them to get it for you.

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2 Responses to “A French/German wine for summer cucumbers”

  1. Tieber Says:

    Does the average Sun reader really care about this pseudo-sophistication? Give me an article telling me which Domestic beer will go best with Pizza and Doritos. I’m sure such an article would appeal to more Sun readers.

  2. brynn grimley Says:

    We’d be glad to tell you a great wine for pizza — look into Lemberger, you can get a good bottle for $8 at Fred Meyer. Incidentally, our wine blog about boxed wine did quite well with readers — you should check it out.

    But to be honest, if you don’t care about what wine to pair with the recipes we run each week then don’t read the article. Problem solved.

    - Brynn

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