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Photo by Leslie Kelly
No, The Wino didn't mind when Mario Batali asked to have his photo taken with her at the Aspen Food &

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Ready for the Summer of Riesling Love?

Batali kelly.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
No, The Wino didn't mind when Mario Batali asked to have his photo taken with her at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.
Hey fellow lushes! I just returned from getting Rocky Mountain HIgh at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, an epic eat-and-drink-a-thon where it's possible to schmooze with various famous celebrity chefs. Yes, that's me and Mario B., in the shameless self-portrait.

But the dude who was so freaking impressive? Not a TV star, but New York restaurant magnate Danny Meyer. The guy behind fancy places like Eleven Madison Park (where Jason Franey worked before coming out to Canlis) and the super satisfying burger making Shake Shacks. He led a wildly entertaining wine and food pairing demo called "Swill for the Grill."

Danny's got charisma, practically doing cartwheels while instructing the raucous crowd to mark their tasting notes with smiley faces for "yummy" and a sad face for matches that were "yucky." Can I get an amen for taking making this exercise silly, not stressful? There's no right or wrong answer, he coached. Just find the match that works for you. It might surprise the hell out of you. Uh, you mean like finding out that Riesling works with just about everything, even steak?

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Photo by Leslie Kelly
This Riesling fan is letting her love show.
So, on our plate of grilled meat, we had beautifully prepared pieces of steak, chicken, sweetbreads, lamb and bacon. The white wine with white meat rule would dictate that Riesling would be a winner, winner chickey dinner with the poultry and the delicate innards known as sweetbreads and, of course, bacon makes everything better. But it was quite a shocker to find that this sweet-tart, perfectly summer-y wine also worked with steak. Kinda like the way ketchup makes a burger complete. Holy cow!

Maybe it's because the best Rieslings have that whole acid thing going on. Not like the bad acid trip you went on in college. Oh wait, that was me. Acid in wine is a groovy thing, man. Again, going back to the ketchup comparison, where the sweet tomato quality is balanced with the acid in vinegar. Sorta the same thing.

Later, blissed out on newfound food revelations, I ran into a girl with a tribute to Riesling tattooed on her back. Now, that's true dedication to the grape that originally hails from Germany, which still kicks ass when it comes to making Riesling, strong-as-Mr.-T beer, stellar sausages and keeping the Euro zone going into a meltdown that would make those first few things a lot harder to enjoy because we'd all be broke as shit when we slide into another recession. Damn! Another acid flashback kicking in.

You know another place that makes some good Riesling? A bunch of wineries right here in Washington state. Some of The Wino's faves, under $20:

Long Shadow's Poet's Leap makes me wanna rhyme all the time.

Kiona's Dry Riesling is made with grapes that are old enough to get served in a bar.

Arbor Crest has also been at the Riesling making game for decades in Spokanistan. They get their lovely grapes from a vineyard named for the Greek God of wine. Oh, lawdy, it's a blast worshipping Dyonisus.

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