By BRANDON LITTLE
It’s that time of year again, the sun’s out in full force and it’s getting blistering hot, at times 35C (or 95 Fahrenheit, for those tourists out there). We’re beginning to spend more time on patios, at parks, or one of our amazing beaches. It’s also when we start moving away from drinking those heavy reds that keep us warm through the winter, to what the Okanagan is really known for: Our whites.
I like to call this time of year Riesling time! Sure, there are a lot of different Okanagan whites to choose from: Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay, Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, but there’s something to be said about the Riesling grape — how refreshing it is on a hot day, similar to what a cold beer can do for those beer drinkers out there.
The style of an Okanagan Riesling used to be off-dry or almost sweet, but these days it seems to be more on the dry side, which means it’s clean, crisp, and extremely thirst-quenching. Insert a Homer Simpson mouthwatering scene here.
Rieslings are killer when paired with the right summertime food: pico de gallo, ceviche, salted cheeses, salads, basically salty foods, or ones high in acid (remember that tip). I’ll be posting more about food and wine pairings as summer goes on, so stay tuned.
My favourite Riesling from the Okanagan is from Tantalus, located in South East Kelowna. They have a cool-looking, modern tasting room with fantastic views. They don’t have an insane wine selection, which I like, because it means they focus their energy on what they do best. Consider a large restaurant menu — it typically means a lot of mediocre dishes. But menus that are small tend to be high in quality, chefs can specialize in what they do best, as opposed to generalize and spread themselves too thin, the same goes for wine.
The Riesling I’m having today is their 2018 estate version, which runs for about $21 CAD. I’ve kept it quite cold, which is the thing to do in my opinion, probably colder than what they suggest if you Google it, but it’s partly why it’s so refreshing. DO NOT put ice cubes in your wine, stick it in the deep freeze if it’s not cold enough. Or put it in your freezer and be patient. It’s worth it. The wine is fresh, dry, clean, crisp, citrusy, with sunrise apple attributes (tart but not too tart) super mouth watery, everything I crave while sitting in the blistering sun! It’s extremely well balanced, even though the wine is high in acid, it’s followed with the perfect amount of fruit and a finish that leaves you wanting more....yum.
I’m pairing the wine with a few different dishes, including pico de gallo, mango/strawberry salsa, and smoked salmon pizza. The salsas were fantastic on their own and paired with the wine, well, let’s say they didn’t disappoint. Refreshing dishes with refreshing wine? You can’t go wrong. But, the all-star pairing was the smoked salmon pizza. Dill, capers, red onion, B.C. smoked salmon, cream cheese and melted mozzarella. Why was the pairing so good? It was the salt from the smoked salmon, capers, and cheese. When you add salt to a dish and pair it with wine, it gives the wine more body, so the wine goes from being light, to almost heavy and it is noticeable, it honestly can be mind-blowing at times.
I had five friends over to help with the review, plus help with the food, and when I asked for their word to describe the wine, they all used “Fresh or Crisp”, and I’d absolutely agree!
If you’re someone who’s going to be visiting the Kelowna area, make sure you visit Tantalus and hopefully they have some Riesling left for you, if not, try everything else because it’s all pretty damn good!
Got Riesling questions, comments, thoughts or feelings? Comment below! 👇