W ednesday night was Riesling night again at our house. This time we had three European Rieslings to taste, and they were delicious.

Riesling is one of the world’s great grapes, but many wine drinkers overlook it because of one or two bad experiences. Sometimes it can be made badly, either too sweet or too tart. But when it is done right, the grape produces outstanding wine.

Our group of six joined others in an online group #WineChat to share observations about the wines. It was fun and informative.

Our wines came from Austria, Germany and Alsace, all 100% Riesling. We were impressed with how different the wines were, and how good each one was.

I’ll go through the wines one by one with the observations our tasters made.

Here's our group, ready to taste.
Here’s our group, ready to taste.

First up was Selbach Fish Label Dry Riesling Mosel 2011 ($30), from Germany. We thought it didn’t have much of an aroma but on the palate it had plenty of fresh fruit. The most prominent tastes were pineapple, peaches and apples, with a hint of minerality.

The wine had a refreshing acidity that made it especially good with food. Some liked it with brie or fol epie cheese. I liked it with hot wings. All six of us agreed we would buy this wine. Pleasant and elegant were the most common words we used.

Sandy and Steve enjoying the food and wine.
Sandy and Steve enjoying the food and wine.

The next wine was Austria’s Salomon Undhoff Steiner Kögl Kremstal dac Reserve Riesling 2011 ($15). Though we loved all three wines, this was the consensus favorite of the night.

It started with a heavenly aroma and a clean, crisp taste. We picked up tastes of apricot, peach and subtle minerality.. We loved the full, round body. It had a long finish and a smooth mouthfeel. It was different than the first wine, with a level, even taste from start to finish.

I thought this wine went especially well with the hot wings. We all agreed this is a wine we would buy over and over again. And at this price we think it’s a steal.

The grapes come from a single vineyard in Stein, from terraced vines on a south-facing slope. The vines are 50 years old and more.

We could see why this was voted among the top10 best Rieslings of the 2011 vintage and why Wine Spectator gave it 93 points.

Steve, Ellen and Teri tasting the Selbach.
Steve, Ellen and Teri tasting the Selbach.

The last wine was from Alsace, Domaine Ehrhart Riesling Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($15). It started with a pleasant floral aroma with a touch of lime. This was another wine whose taste stayed even from start to finish.

Lots of citrus, some stone fruit and again the minerality. This wine had the longest finish of the three. I also thought the mouthfeel was velvety.

I thought the wine would go great with a roast pork loin. And I have served it with the Thanksgiving turkey. David and Ellen thought it would be great with the giant shrimp they had just had in Key West.

The grapes for this wine come from 25-year-old vineyards at the top of the slope above the commune of Equisheim. The winery is owned by the Ehrhart family that has owned the property since 1725.

They are located in the village of Wettolsheim, about 3 miles from Colmar. The family has been practicing organic farming for two generations. The wine rests on its lees for up to six months before bottling, giving it some extra depth and character.

We thought it was interesting how different these three wines tasted from three different regions in the same part of the world. It shows how expressive a grape Riesling is, how it carries the terroir and lets you taste the place.

David, just back from Key West, wished he had some of the huge shrimp he ate there.
David, just back from Key West, wished he had some of the huge shrimp he ate there.

All three wines tasted much better with food. They are OK for sipping wines, but each wine had so much character and depth that comes out when paired with the right food. Riesling grapes make great wine that is meant to accompany a nice meal.

The wine chat format was fun with people sending tweets. Austrian Wine, Wines of Germany and the Wines of Alsace were especially helpful and informative.

But I was especially grateful to my five companions who plunged into the fascinating world of Riesling with me. I had a blast.

From: Austria, Germany, Alsace
Cost: $15-30
Year: 2011

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