In a word, yes. When it comes to wine production, most people would agree that California stands hands and shoulders above the rest of the nation. But ask people which is the second most popular region for making wine in the USA and most people will not know the answer. In fact, it is a close northern neighbor of California. The State of Washington has established itself nicely as the second wine producer in the country.
Unlike California, the wine industry in Washington got off to a very slow start. In just the last decade, however, the number of wineries in Washington has skyrocketed. Every year, the wine industry in Washington attracts millions of visitors, both local and from out of state. This has led to a flourishing multimillion-dollar wine tourism industry, which has enormous growth potential.
The first wine grapes in Washington were grown in 1825 and, within the next 90 years, wine grape growing was well established by the early Italian, French, and German settlers. The settlers were quick to note the rich, warm volcanic soil and desert-like climate. Along with the annual runoff from the melting snowcaps of the Cascades, a well-known mountain range, it made for an ideal location to grow grapes.
Soon the land acreage for farming grapes increased, and, by 1960, local commercial winemaking had started. Within the next 20 years, local Washington residents started to grow grapes and developed their own home wineries. By the 1980s, the wine tourism industry in Washington had evolved and, within a decade, it was competing with Oregon and California for tourists.
Today, there are hundreds of wineries in eastern Washington, north of the Cascades. While driving, one can easily visualize the dozens of wineries that dot the landscape from western Washington to Vancouver, WA.
One of the key reasons Washington has seen rapid growth of the wine industry is its geographical location. The state is located on roughly the same latitude (46*N) as some of the top French wine-growing regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux.
The dry climate of inner eastern Washington, combined with the long daylight hours at this northern latitude, creates the ideal conditions for growing grapes. Irrigation techniques learned from the French and California growers have enabled the Washington farmers to grow grapes easily, giving rise to wines with a range of fruity flavors, mild acidity, and pleasant aroma.
Much of the grape growing is done in eastern Washington. On the eastern side of the Cascades, the local government endorsed the wine regions, and farmers are provided with much-needed financial assistance. After California, Washington wine regions produce more wine grapes than all other states in the nation.
Unfortunately, unlike California, Washington wineries still lag when it comes to the export of wine. Much of the wine produced in Washington is locally sold and consumed. Very little Washington wine is exported out of state. Until the industry gets more well known, it will have to play second fiddle to California when it comes to wine exports.
The Best Washington Cabernet
What is the best Washington Cabernet? Why not try the 2018 Silver Totem Cabernet Sauvignon? With blackberry notes and aged in oak barrels for 16 months, this full-bodied red wine is extraordinary. Half of the grapes are aged in oak barrels, and the other half is aged in tanks for around two years. The care that the fermenting process takes is the key to the success of this wine.
Wine Regions of Washington
Horse Heaven Hills AVA has the responsibility of producing almost 25% of grape production in the state. Other Washington wine regions include Columbia Valley AVA, Puget Sound AVA, Red Mountain AVA, Lewis-Clark Valley, and Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley, where there are approximately 36 lakes in the region.
California leads the nation with over 4,500 wineries. Washington now has 1,000 wineries (compared to only 20 in 1980). With a far more open landscape and less expensive to visit than California, it is anticipated that the wine tourism industry is going to blossom.
While much of the tourism is interstate, it is slowly attracting out-of-state tourists. Membership to the Washington wineries is much cheaper than what it costs in California. You must try the best Washington Cabernet from Pacific Rim and Company.
The Washington wine region’s industry adds close to $7 billion to the state‘s economy each year. Despite a large number of wineries, Washington is still behind California when it comes to actual wine production. The Golden State makes up close to 86% of the total U.S. wine, whereas Washington only accounts for 5%.
But most experts believe that Washington has a lot of room to grow; the climate is perfect, the labor is cheaper than in California, and more young people are interested in the wine-making business. The State of Washington’s best-kept secret may soon be out of the bad. To learn more about some of the wines produced in Washington soils, visit Pacific Rim and Company.
There is a myth of gigantic proportions circulating in the world of wine drinkers that only certain foods can be consumed with wine. Where and when this belief started is hard to know, and for the longest time, wine drinkers only consumed their favorite beverage with certain foods. There is always food that goes with wine and wine that goes with the food. Most wine drinkers only paired foods that wine experts recommended for fear of feeling embarrassed or being ridiculed.
But experts in the wine industry all agree that this is a foolish belief; you can enjoy your wine with any food that you like. No rule steadfastly says that wines can only be enjoyed with a lamb steak or certain cheese and crackers. Over the past few years, wine connoisseurs have tried various combinations of food pairings with wine, and here are some weird pairings that might not end up being so weird after all.
1. Burgers and Red Wines:
Whether you are eating a veggie burger, chicken burger, or lamb burger, you may want to consume some red wine at the same time. If the burger is spicy and flavorful, try a light-bodied red wine, like Gamay, Negroamaro, Lambrusco, or Pinot Noir. Still, if it is the classic cheeseburger, then a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah may enhance the palate.
2. Macaroni and Cheese:
Most people would never dream of consuming wine with Mac & cheese. But with the right sparkling wine, the dish will taste absolutely great in your mouth. Some great sparkling wines that go with this all-American dish include Brut, Moscato, Chardonnay, and Ayala Brut. The creaminess and salt pair excellent with sparkling wines.
3. Chocolate Ice Cream:
If you have been waiting to indulge in chocolate ice cream, then try pairing it with a light red wine like Pinot noir. Each scoop of chocolate ice cream with a sip of the Pinot Noir will be a delightful experience. The rich milk chocolate flavor, plus the soft fruit aroma of the wine, make a great combination.
4. Pizza and Red Wines:
Regardless of the topping, experts agree that pizza plus red wine is a great pairing. Some of the red wines that can handle a mega-dose of pepperoni and mushrooms include Zinfandel, Shiraz, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. The high tannin content and acidity of the red wine combine well with the meaty and salty taste of the pizza. The key is to select a light-bodied wine so as not to overpower the flavor of the pizza.
5. Sausage or Bacon and Most Wines:
Both bacon and sausage go great with a sweet wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Canyon Oaks Zinfandel, Sweet Lucy Red, or Sweet Moscato. The spicy meat taste will blend well with the sweetness of the wine. However, the key is to sip the wine, as it will exude the pepper flavor of the sausage/bacon.
6. Tacos and Wine:
Tacos can be salty, spicy, sweet, and hot, and to calm the palate, the best wines are the fruity, medium-full-bodied red wines, specifically Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Or, if you prefer white wine, go with a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. The aromatic fruits will balance out the spice and the heat. Plus, the mild acidity of a Riesling will help melt the guacamole in your mouth.
7. Hot Dogs and Wine:
A hot dog with relish, a thick layer of mustard, a scoop of spicy baked beans, and jalapenos served on a traditional soft white bun with fried onion toppings are best paired with Alsatian Pinot Blanc, Riesling, or a lighter, fruity red like Pinot Noir. These wines will reduce the spiciness, richness, and smoke, yet also bring out the flavors of the hot dog. If the jalapenos are spicy, then you need to cool the palate down with sparkling wine; choose either a Chardonnay, Chilean Merlot, or a Riesling.
Figure Out the Weird Wine Pairings for Your Next Party Today!
At the end of the day, there is no firm rule on wine pairings and food. It is all based on your personal preference. Try any weird pairings you would like to! Find the food that goes with wine that you like.
The important thing is not to stick to old wine rituals; try a different red or white wine with different types of food. Soon, you will realize that wine and food pairings can also depend on the mood, occasion, setting, and beverage availability. To ensure you don’t run out of wine, visit Pacific Rim and Company, where the selection will give you a variety of wines to try.
Chardonnay: The Basics
Chardonnay is a white wine that first originated from the Burgundy region of eastern France. But today, the green-skinned grapes are grown in many other places, including New Zealand, California, and many parts of Europe. While the grape itself is neutral, the wine is vinified in many styles that add a variety of tropical fruity flavors during the manufacturing process. In general, Chardonnay wines tend to be light- to medium-bodied with mild acidity and may contain flavors of apples, plums, and pears.
Chardonnay made in Australia is known to have citrus flavors. Chardonnay wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation tend to be nuttier and mildly acidic but may also have a hazelnut flavor or a buttery aftertaste. Chardonnay can also be found in several superb sparkling wines. Today, Chardonnay remains one of the most popular white wines for people of all ages. It is reasonably pierced and readily available.
Riesling: The Basics
Riesling is another white wine made from grapes in the Rhine region of Germany. The key difference between the grapes used to make Chardonnay and the Rhine grapes are that the latter often exude aromatic flavors and give the wine flowery or fruit flavors and high acidity.
When discussing Riesling vs. Chardonnay, a similarity of both is that the origin of the wine strongly influences its flavor. Riesling wines have fruity flavors with noticeable acidity in cooler climates, but in warmer climates, such as in Austria, the wine tends to have peachy and citrus notes. Like Chardonnay, Riesling made in Australia has a characteristic citrus aroma. The one area where Riesling differs from Chardonnay is that aged Riesling takes on the distinct petrol character.
Today, Riesling wines are made in many parts of the world, including South Africa, most of Europe, California, Washington state, New York, New Zealand, China, and Canada.
Riesling wines tend to be sweet, semi-sweet, and dry. In addition, there are also several types of sparkling Riesling wines. In terms of quality, Riesling is often in the top three white wines, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
When discussing Chardonnay vs. Riesling, the Riesling wines tend to be medium-bodied, mildly sweet, or dry. They all tend to have some type of fruity flavor. On the other hand, Chardonnay is a medium-bodied wine with mild acidity and is usually dry rather than sweet. It may also have fruity flavors of apples, lemon, hazelnuts, etc. Oaked Chardonnay, however, is a heavy-bodied wine and also emits subtle notes of nuts and vanilla.
Color and Climate
Riesling vs. Chardonnay: Riesling wines tend to be of lighter color or yellowish in nature, whereas Chardonnay wines are often brown or gold-colored; this is chiefly due to the oxidative process during winemaking.
In general, the majority of Chardonnay wines will be on the darker side or light brown or golden in color. Chardonnay, made from the temperate regions of Chile, Burgundy, Oregon, and New Zealand, will exude a tinge of lime, citrus, or even tangerine. The Chardonnay from warmer climates, like South Africa, California, and Southern Australia, will exude ripe tropical flavors of apricot, passion fruit, and even lemons.
In addition, Riesling wines are often recognized by their distinct slender bottle-shape with a long neck.
The light-bodied Riesling wines do not tend to have a strong aroma, but the aged Riesling will have a distinct petrol aroma. If you have a good nose, you may also be able to pick up the fruity aroma of apples, pears, apricots, lime, or other citrus fruits.
Chardonnay vs. Riesling finds that Chardonnay is much different compared to Riesling in the aromas. The Chardonnay may have a nuttier aroma, mixed with cedar and vanilla. Similar to Riesling; however, there may be underlying notes of apples, lemon, and citrus
Wine and Food Pairing
Because Riesling is highly acidic, it tends to pair with diverse foods, including Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Asian cuisine. The mildly sweet Riesling goes great with curried and spicy Indian cuisine.
Chardonnay tends to pair well with Italian foods, pasta, fish, roast meat, and seafood. It is also a great wine to be consumed with desserts.
Which is Better?
Both Riesling and Chardonnay are great wines and very affordable. There is no major difference between the two, and, at the end of the day, the decision as to which one to pick depends on personal preferences.
If you prefer a light-bodied sweet wine, go with a Riesling, but if you prefer a medium- to full-bodied, dry wine, go with Chardonnay. The good thing is that there are so many types of Riesling and Chardonnay wines; you can pick and choose until you find out which one you like the best.
You can learn more from the experts at Pacific Rim and Company. The 2018 Silver Totem Chardonnay is a fine example of a Chardonnay produced in the Columbia Valley region in the State of Washington. It is refreshing and crisp while also being vibrant and juicy with vivid fruity flavors.
Riesling Wine 101
Riesling wine is readily available in North America, but most consumers know very little about its history. This refreshingly delicate aromatic white wine is native to regions along the Rhine River in Germany. Besides Germany, Riesling is also made in Austria, throughout eastern Europe, South Africa, Australia, France, and the United States.
The wine is highly acidic in nature because it boasts a wide range of fruity flavors like apricots, apples, limes, pears, and peaches. A feature unique to Riesling wine is that it is one of the few wines with an iconic tall and slender bottle shape that makes it easily recognizable on the shelf.
The History of Riesling
Riesling’s history can be traced to the Rhine wine region of Germany, where it was the preferred beverage of German royalty. It was a wine that was commonly consumed during business dealings by the Europeans during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Early on, it was quickly realized that Riesling was one of the few rare wines that aged gracefully and developed a high-quality taste over time.
This is one of the common reasons why the best Riesling wines are often stored for decades and can be found in the basements of many estates. Part of the reason for its high quality is due to the high level of acidity. During the aging process, it is now known that a compound called TDN is secretly giving the wine its hallmark petrol-like aroma.
In the Rhine region, the majority of Riesling produced is medium- to full-bodied and more acidic. Besides Germany, Austria and France also produce very high-quality Riesling wines that tend to be light-bodied and sweet or maybe very dry. Outside Europe, Australia is also a major producer of dry Riesling wine, which characteristically has unique citrus flavors.
In North America, Riesling is produced on both the East and West Coasts. On the West Coast, the wine is typically dry and contains mature stony, fruity flavors. A delightfully 2018 Dry Riesling wine, produced in the beautiful Yakima Valley in the State of Washington, is pure and crisp, with jasmine, citrus, and mineral flavors to delight the senses. The soils in the Yakima and Horse Heaven Hills areas of the larger Columbia Valley are ideal for producing complex Riesling wines.
The Taste of Riesling
In its youth, Riesling is most well-known for its fruity flavors. These fruity flavors depend on which part of the world the wine is produced. In Germany and France, it is known to have flavors of apples, apricots, peaches, and pears, but in Australia, the wine is most commonly associated with flowery tastes, including citrus, jasmine, and even stony fruits. In addition, as the wine ages, it will also pick up other flavors like beeswax, honey, ginger, and the distinct petrol aroma.
Is the Wine Sweet?
Most Riesling wines that come from Germany are sweet due to the grapes, but in other parts of the world, the wine may be dry. A bottle of 2019 Sweet Riesling is processed in such a way as to maintain as much fruitiness and freshness as possible, with peach and pineapple flavors.
A 2019 J Riesling, with the “J” and then the capital “R” standing for “Just Right” because that’s what it is – just right. Both dry and sweet Rieslings are so popular, it seemed “Just Right” to craft a wine in between those two. This charming Riesling works well with spicy dishes, while the acidity goes well with German and French foods that are richer and heavier.
A wonderful dessert wine, the 2018 Vin De Glacière Riesling has about 16 percent residual sugar with nuances of jasmine, pear, and honey and a well-preserved natural acidity.
Pairing Riesling with Food
Riesling can be paired with a wide range of foods, but it is ideally best consumed alongside spicy and hot foods, like Thai curries, Indian biryani, or hot Chinese noodles. The high acidity of the wine will tame the hot spices and keep the palate refreshed after every bite. Other foods that pair well with Riesling include Mexican cuisine, roast duck, Cajun cuisine, and most Italian foods.
When Should I Drink Riesling Wine?
The best Riesling wine can be consumed at any time, it is ideal for the summer and warm nights. The reason is that the high acidity and the crisp taste will seduce you into making a spicy barbecue, followed by a cooling sensation after drinking a glass of sparkling Riesling wine. To maintain the freshness, Riesling wines are at their best when refrigerated and served cold.
Good Riesling wines are very affordable at between $10.99 and $16.99 when you purchase them online from Pacific Rim and Company or at a store that carries their products near you. Pacific Rim is passionate about Riesling wines. They care about the land and are responsible stewards in their sustainability practices to keep the State of Washington beautiful.
Whether you choose a dry or sweet Riesling or one that sits in the middle of the road and is “Just Right,” you can’t go wrong with a selection from Pacific Rim and Company. They are very conscientious about using the best sustainable grape-growing techniques for low-input winemaking.
In the vineyards, they conserve water by not overwatering the grapes and also use the natural yeast from the grapes for the fermentation process. Go online today to check out their story and see the vast selection of the best Riesling wines available now for purchase. You can enjoy your favorite Riesling soon!
Even though Riesling wine has been around for several centuries, it is often an underappreciated wine. It is not the wine that is frequently ordered during dining or for celebrating a festive occasion, and, sadly, most wine drinkers are missing out on this special beverage.
Riesling wines tend to be less sweet, have a little bit more alcohol, and feel heavier on the palate. Riesling is mass-produced in the Rhine region of Germany and other neighboring countries, like France and Austria. It was one of the first wines to be consumed by the German elite back in the 14th century.
Since the 1970s, exports of Riesling wine to the North American market have increased chiefly because it is assumed to be sweet. But while Riesling may be a great wine, there is much more to this classic beverage than just tradition.
Is Riesling Wine Sweet?
In general, even though many people think of Riesling as a sweet wine, it is not. Even though the wine is made from one of the finest grapes in the world, the wine is more on the dry side or more acidic. This is not to say that there are no sweet Riesling wines - there are several. But one thing that was observed during the manufacturing process is that Riesling wine tends to taste much better with age; that is a common reason why many Riesling wines are stored for decades as they develop the unique aromatic petrol aroma.
But the problem is that as the wine ages, all the sugar content gets converted into alcohol. Over several decades of storage, the original wine can transform into a complex beverage with all kinds of secondary flavors, such as ginger, honey, wax, mushrooms, and nutty flavors.
The Fermentation Process
To appreciate why Riesling wines are not so sweet means first understanding the manufacturing process. When the grapes are mashed and fermented, the breakdown includes a lot of sugar. Early on during the winemaking process, the wine will be sweet because of the high sugar content, but it will lack many other features of a great wine.
As the fermentation continues, all the sugar is broken down into alcohol, which is the reason why Riesling wines tend to be medium- or full-bodied. Also, at this stage, all the substances released from the grape skin, including tannins and flavonoids, bring out the fruity flavor of the wine.
Which Riesling Wines Are Sweet?
In general, Riesling wines (Kabinett) made from grapes picked during the early part of the harvest tend to have low alcohol content and are light-bodied and dry.
Riesling wines (Spatlese) made from grapes picked during the later part of the season tend to have a full body and can be dry. The mild sweetness is often overridden by acidity.
Riesling wines made from “specially harvested” grapes (Ausles) or berry-selected harvest (Beerenaulese) tend to be fairly sweet and mild wines.
The sweetest Riesling wines (Trockenbeerenauslese) are the most expensive and quite tasty but have low alcohol content.
Finally, there is Riesling ice wine made from frozen grapes. These wines tend to have a combination of sweetness and acidity and are always bubbly.
How Do I Tell If My Riesling Wine Is Sweet?
Read the label: The best way to tell if your Riesling is sweet, read the label. All wines will have a label that states the residual sugar (RS) and alcohol by volume (ABV). The RS is the measure of sugar left in the wine after the fermentation process. If all the sugar is converted into alcohol, the ABV will be high, and the RS will be low.
On the other hand, if there is still some RS left in the wine, the ABV will tend to be on the low side, thus making the wine a little sweet. Therefore, if you want a sweet Riesling wine, choose one that has an ABV of 11% or lower and if you prefer high alcohol content, choose one with an ABV of more than 13.5%.
The 2018 Vin De Glacière Riesling uses a process that freezes the grapes and is then pressed frozen, resulting in approximately 36% sugar concentration. The juice then goes through fermentation until the residential sugar reaches 16%. You will notice the flavors of honey, pear, and jasmine in this sweet wine that pairs well with desserts. This is one of the sweetest Riesling wines.
Know Where to Get Your Sweet Riesling Wine All Summer Long
To learn more about sweet Riesling wines, go online to Pacific Rim and Company. Pacific Rim is passionate about Riesling wines, not just the sweet but all the varieties. The 2019 Sweet Riesling is a favorite with its peach and pineapple notes. The wine has 7% residual sugar with a fresh, fruity, and lively feel due to the carbon dioxide we leave behind from the process. It’s great just as an aperitif or to pair with spicy cuisine.