Riesling from the United States tends to be a bit devoid of character. Sure, they can be pleasant, but it is fairly rare to find one possessing meaningful personality. Actually, New York State produces some of the most consistently quaffable Riesling in this country. But in a popular wave of Chardonnay and Merlot drinkers, Riesling largely has been left behind. It's a shame, too. Riesling rocks. Germany produces phenomenal Riesling, in the well-known sweeter style. Alsace continues to churn out drier examples of the grape that are attractive and crisp. And now Austria has thrown its hat into the ring as a producer of less sweet styles of Riesling that receive well-deserved international attention.
If you're from Houston, you need to know Riesling. As Scott Spencer, the kind and knowledgeable owner of the Houston Wine Merchant has correctly proclaimed for years, Riesling is the perfect wine for the weather here. It is refreshing, crisp, delightfully cooling, and pairs marvelously with many foods (including spicy ones, which Houstonians have been known to favor from time to time).
For everyday drinking, you can pick up a bottle of the excellent Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica 2008. This wine, made from Washington State's Columbia Valley, is a partnership between the large winery Chateau Ste. Michelle and the famous German producer Dr. Loosen. It is done more in a German style, although on the drier side of the sweetness scale. (That would be kabinett in German wine nomenclature. German wines are labeled by how sweet they are, but that tends to be pretty confusing, so set it aside for later explication.) In plain terms, this is a wine that comes off as a hybrid of the German and Austrian styles. It has the hint of sweetness you find in German wines, but its peachy fruit is carried along by a slightly tart edge and plenty of minerality.
The Eroica Riesling is a wine that is made to slice through the debilitating humidity of Houston summer and transport you to a land of refreshment and enchantment. You might call it the San Diego of fermented grape juice. And at about $15 at your local Costco, you can drink up without a guilty conscience.