I first discovered wine with picnics on a family trip to Northern Italy. Sitting on stoney beaches along the Western armpit of the Italian peninsula, we drank light, effervescent Prosecco with sliced tomato, cheese, and bread. I thought that light, snack-style meals required so-called “simple” wines like Prosecco and Cava. Recently, however, on an outdoors adventure to North Carolina, my mother and I sat back one evening to enjoy a picnic (inside a Motel room, away from the spring cold) of sharp cheddar, brie, pear, and prosciutto. We curiously chose the Sipp Mack Riesling Tradition 2014 from the Alsace region in France to accompany our meal, not knowing what to expect. Hovering over immaculate, white hotel pillows in clear, plastic Govino cups, the wine was a straw-yellow gold with an aromatic bouquet of flowers, melon, and stone fruits, accompanied by sweet lemon-lime. The wine was dry and low in acid — not surprising for Alsatian Riesling, but surprising to me and my mother, more used to sweet German Rieslings or the minerally, acid-blast Rieslings from Washington or New Zealand. The wine was floral, fruity, and delightful, despite a marked lack of bubbly simplicity. Notably, the Sipp Mack family’s 2014 Riesling is their second harvest since the family’s production became certified as organic. Low in alcohol (12.5%) and acid, this wine should be drunk young, within 3-5 years of the vintage. Despite tasting wholeheartedly dry, research reveals that the wine has 2.0 grams of residual sugar per liter — nothing compared to French dessert Sauternes, which can have as much as 160 grams of sugar per liter.
While this style of Riesling was not quite bold enough to cut through dry, crumbly cheeses like sharp cheddar, the wine melded to the softer cheeses like sunscreen to our knee caps on the beach. The prosciutto and pears teamed up well with the wine, and we were content. And so it is that I may never again return to Prosecco when selecting wine for picnics or snack-style meals.