Celebrating May Day with a glass of Riesling

The Fuchs family.

The Fuchs family. - Credit: Archant

A traditional May Day celebration would include white wine, writes Fiona Taylor, of Christopher Piper Wines, who offers her suggestion for the occasion.

Riesling Equinoxe

Riesling Equinoxe - Credit: Archant

May Day, according to Wikipedia, is celebrated as an ancient tradition in the northern hemisphere with dancing, music and cakes.

There are many primary schools here in Devon whose children practise maypole dances through the preceding month, culminating in a May Day of dresses, ribbons and under-the-breath counting of ‘under, over, in and out’ whilst dancing round the gaily covered maypole.

Traditionally, ‘May Day wine’ would be served, a white wine brew steeped in sprigs of fresh woodruff (a highly scented plant also used in pot pourri): but as a tempting alternative to this delightful sounding concoction, may I suggest a Riesling ?

Riesling is my favourite grape variety and I cannot say enough about its amazing qualities. Fruity, zesty, floral, (it makes the perfect lunch wine!) with mineral, stone peach and lime flavours, it hits the right note every time.


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Great Riesling wines are capable of very long life, which is remarkable considering their apparent lightness of frame and often relatively low alcohol. They can range in style from the bone-dry to the unctuous and hauntingly sweet.

The classic French examples are grown in Alsace, where Riesling is regarded as the region’s most noble variety. If you prefer a sweeter style then Riesling Equinoxe, from one of the region’s best producers, Henri Fuchs, is the answer.

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Henri and Catherine Fuchs’s son Paul is now the winemaker and the fourth generation of the family to help run this splendid 10-hectare domaine situated in the quality heartland of Alsace at Ribeauvillé, a village renowned for its rich and opulent wines. The Equinoxe is an outstanding organic wine with a clean, spicy, floral nose with a hint of gunflint. Extremely concentrated on the palate, it retains a wonderful freshness and bursts with elegant lime fruit.

The Real McCoy Riesling from Jordan Estate in Stellenbosch is another classic, this time in a dry style, with a palette of intense flavours from lime through to white peach and Granny Smith apple. It is a superb accompaniment to the lighter spectrum of Asian cuisine.

Louis Guntrum’s Dry Riesling from the Rheinhessen is another to try and, once again, partners perfectly with spicy food.

For all these wines look no further than Christopher Piper Wines on your doorstep in Ottery St Mary or visit www.christopherpiperwines.co.uk

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