By Evan Powell
Photographs provide by author
A view of 5 of 7 Riesling representations with the guest of honor in the distance.
Paul Grieco is a sommelier and restaurateur who believes a great wine should represent six core values: Balance, power, complexity, longevity, sense of place and yumminess. With these tenets as the basis, Paul founded the international movement, Summer of Riesling, to celebrate what he feels is the world’s most versatile and expressive grape. At a recent celebratory dinner at McCrady’s, Paul offered his colorful expressiveness with passionate, informative commentary alongside a culinary journey of excellence guided by Chef Sean Brock and Beverage Director Cappie Peete.
Butter Poached Shrimp, Grilled Cucumber and Celery Cream paired with Spatlese, Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, “Mulheimer Sonnelay,” Mosel-Germany 2002.
The evening started with Mr Grieco graciously working the reception, introducing himself to each guest while applying temporary “Riesling” tattoos with a fine, white, dinner linen. As the evening progressed, the intimate setting allowed guests to experience first hand a wide array of international Riesling representations from bone dry to rich and cloyingly sweet. The grape’s high acidity levels create the sharp, “razor’s edge,” of balance and allow for strong wine and food pairings showcasing the versatility and elegance of the wine.
For anyone who views Riesling as merely a sweet wine for the beginner palate, the myth should effectively be busted. Riesling is the embodiment of a tradition of pride; steeped in history with roots literally dating back to the Roman Empire. Each wine produced from the grape is the essence of terroir. This sense of place is purely displayed in Riesling with the only manipulation most often being the point in time that the grapes are picked. As Grieco puts it: “Riesling is made in the vineyard and not in the winery.”
Duck, Aged and Roasted on the Bone, Anson Mills Farro, Fermented Walnut and Edisto Garlic paired with Domaine Mittnacht, “Les Fossiles,” Alsace-France, 2009 & Albert Boxler, “Grand Cru Sommerberg,” Alsace-France, 2005.
The bottom line is that Riesling is the epitome of personal style. It may be centerpiece of refreshment or the perfect accessory to any well-planned menu. Grab a glass, join the cause and let this be your Summer of Riesling.