Drink what you like and eat what you like. We often repeat that advice to readers as the first basic guideline for wine and food pairing. However, I confess that I often fuss over finding just the right match even for a Monday night meal. Occupational hazard, I suppose. But the other night, I was forced to heed that tip when my dinner plans went somewhat awry.
I was making a diavolo roast chicken, with rosemary potatoes—easy enough, right? Stick it in the oven and go off and do something else while it cooks. Somehow, the time got away from me; the prep for other items took longer than I thought, everything hit perfect doneness at the exact same moment, the kitchen had reached the average temperature of the Sahara Desert and the juicy lighter red I had picked was sitting out on the table, way too warm. No time to chill it down before we were going to eat. Plan B—what is at the right serving temperature in the wine cooler?
Hmm, big, tannic reds; very crisp, light whites; oh, and a German Riesling I had set aside for another occasion but hadn’t opened. I love Riesling. As far as I'm concerned, you can rarely go wrong serving Riesling. And a wine with a hint of sweetness to offset the light spice on the chicken didn’t seem like a bad choice. The St.-Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett Mosel Ockfen Bockstein 2009 had cost me less than $20 and had earned a spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2010.
The chicken was perfectly moist and flavorful. The wine tasted like late August—all juicy yellow Jersey peaches and nectarines. Round and creamy, it was cut with lemonade acidity, with mineral notes and citrus zest on the finish to add interest. 92 points, non-blind. I enjoyed both to the fullest. No magical transformation happened. Neither the wine nor the food did anything particular to enhance each other, but they were perfectly fine together—and that turned out to be just fine with me.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for St.-Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett Mosel Ockfen Bockstein 2009 (92 points, $19).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more Top Value German Rieslings, for $25 or less.