Monday, May 14, 2012

Seeing Lots of PA Riesling this Spring and Summer...

In a recent article published by Taste magazine, the Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits magazine, they published an article on Riesling's popularity and quality in regions similar to Alsace, France.  And their regional discussion stopped in the Pacific Northwest with a slight mention of New York's Finger Lakes.  I will agree that both of these regions are quite dignified in their Riesling quality and deserve recognition.  I'll also agree that Taste is primarily published to market those wines and spirits that are actually sold in the PA Wine and Spirits stores.  But what surprised me the most was that they failed to recognize a region that is in their backyard: Pennsylvania.

Riesling, well-known for its food friendliness and variety of styles is indeed a perfect summer wine.  It ranges in sugar level: anywhere from completely dry to semi-sweet/off-dry, to very, very sweet.  Never be intimidated to pair the sweeter Rieslings with dinner!  You may be surprised at how well they complement meals.

Lots of Riesling in this Tasting... Including those from Nimble Hill
We Even Had Riesling Glasses!
(Photo by author)

You can even find it in a dessert style as Late-Harvest Rieslings or Ice Wine Rieslings.  Pennsylvania producers actually make several of these styles.  These wines are delightful with many cheeses, and I often hosts guests with an assortment of cheese and a variety of Rieslings.

Remember, if you live in Pennsylvania, these Pennsylvania wineries can ship directly to your doorstep!!

In Erie, a region that has great growing conditions for Riesling, you'll find those wines, again of varying sugar levels, with vibrant acidity making it refreshing on hot summer days or perfect for pairing with many light summer dishes including salads, grilled veggies, white-sauce pasta dishes, seafood, fried food, and even sushi!  The flavor profile of Erie Rieslings dominates with a pineapple character.  Try some from Mazza Vineyards or Presque Isle Wine Cellars.

Presque Isle, One of Erie, PA's Premier Riesling Producers
(Photo by author)

In the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, I believe you'll find a slightly lower acidity level, but still very refreshing and well structured.  This region dominates with an apple and floral character, with just a hint of the petrol character that some Riesling lovers really enjoy.  I think many of these pair beautifully with summer harvest risottos.  Try these drier Rieslings from Briar Valley Vineyard &Winery, Greendance Winery, and Glades Pike Winery.

Briar Valley in Bedford, PA has been Nationally Recognized for their Dry Riesling
(Photo by author)

In the middle of the state up through the north east corner near Scranton, many of the Rieslings bring forth a definite citrus and grassy character.  These are the Rieslings that I enjoy eating with mussels, scallops, and white fish in general.  Lots of great acidity that marries quite well with shell fish.  But these are also great aperitif wines to get the party started!  Try Rieslings from Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery, Shade Mountain Vineyards, Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery, and Mt. Nittany Vineyard & Winery.

Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery Riesling
Produced in State College, PA
(Photo by author)

The Well-Recognized IFR Sweetness Scale So You Can Always Get the Appropriate Sugar
Content You'd Like with Your Riesling
(Photo by author)

As you move towards the south east corner of Pennsylvania, I believe you'll find many of the Rieslings to carry a bit more of a floral character and just a hint of peaches.  You'll probably find some of the wineries here really capture that "mineral" character that we see in the wine news.  These are seductive Rieslings - meant to capture our love for the coming Spring blossoms and are perfect for early evenings with fruit salads, cheesecake, curries, or spicy grilled sausages.  Just remember, if you're going to grab a Riesling for dessert with a food, make sure the wine is sweeter than the [food] dessert itself, or the Riesling will taste dry and bitter.  Try Rieslings from Manatawny Creek Winery, Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery, Galen Glen Vineyard and Winery, and Pinnacle Ridge Winery.

My point: don't rule out what may be quite close to you.  Although Pennsylvania is so regionally diverse, there are so many styles to accommodate all wine drinkers' preferences.  But this is one grape that we shouldn't rule out.  :)  Cheers!


  1. I love the breakdown of PA sites of Riesling production. A PA Riesling even won double gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition this year.

  2. Very true. People don't see PA as a Riesling state, but obviously, they are everywhere! It's just that PA has many different styles, which is all regionally oriented.

    Thank you for your comments!

  3. This is a great write up. Very helpful. Thanks.