In 2008, Paul Grieco, the charming and ever so slightly eccentric New York restaurateur, sommelier and lover of the riesling grape, wished that more people enjoyed riesling.
So he decided to offer only riesling by the glass at his Terroir wine bars in New York. No chardonnay, no sauvignon blanc. Just riesling.
Grieco is evangelistic in his passion for the grape, and customers responded. The Summer of Riesling was born, going citywide the next summer and nationwide in 2011. This year, Grieco is traveling the country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in a shipping container converted into a tasting room, pouring German riesling. Stuart Pigott, a Berlin-based writer and riesling enthusiast, is along for the ride.
Grieco and Pigott stopped for a late-night visit in Charlotte in June to share a glass and spread the word.
Chris Woodrow, owner of the Vinmaster Wine Shop in Atherton Mill and a fellow riesling lover, hosted the event. Riesling aficionados, many of whom had the word “riesling” tattooed (at least temporarily) on their arms, crowded into the movable tasting room in the parking lot on South Boulevard.
Grieco began with a pledge of allegiance to rieslings’ balance, delicacy, complexity and sense of place, followed by a tasting of lovely German rieslings. With each glass, the pair discussed the style of the wine, focusing on the balance, complexity and concentration of flavors.
Riesling is one of those grapes that hooks wine lovers. It can make a variety of styles ranging from completely dry to rich, gloriously sweet, and just about everything in between. Riesling wines are incredibly food-friendly, aromatic and refreshing. They are also, all too often, dismissed as too sweet, hence the need for a movement to overcome riesling resistance. The nicely curated riesling selection at the Vinmaster is a great place to start.
Don’t be surprised, though, if you fall a little in love with the grape yourself. The tattoo is optional.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: email@example.com
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