Oktoberfest ideas – better late than never

If you are listening to the Steve Cochran show today around 4:50, you’ll hear me answer a few questions regarding Oktoberfest wine suggestions. It seems a regular listener requested my ideas for what to bring to an Oktoberfest celebration:

“Another wine diva visit would be appreciated!!!! And soon, please….
I’ve been invited to a neighbor’s for an Octoberfest dinner party (menu:
brats, sausages, german potato salad, strudel, etc) and I’m to bring the
wine.  HELP!!! I don’t know what type will go with this menu. Looking
for an inexpensive-moderate priced wine to serve this group of seniors who
are all unsophisticated wine drinkers. A reisling? Rose? Pinot Noir?
Sure would be nice to have her advice for Octoberfest / Halloween /
tailgate season!”

 I’m flattered! Its so nice to be needed 🙂

 Obviously, you can’t go wrong with an official Oktoberfest beer. These are hearty, tough guy brews that get up to 5 or 6% alcohol and definitely pair well with the traditional fare of grilled sauagages, cheesey spatzle noodles, apple desserts and the like. However, if you’re just not in the mood for a brewski, Oktoberfest  celebrations in Munich and around the world definitely feature wine as well. (There’s actually a really big celebration in Cincinnati, Ohio – go figure?)

German wine and food pairings have always been a challenge for me. It seems that hearty German dishes would call for big rustic reds, yet the country makes very little red wine and is known for their Rieslings – dry and sweet. Hmmm, what to do with that? When in doubt, always bow to the local’s choices. As it turns out, German rieslings with great acidity and a touch of sweetness are actually marvelous matches to the rich and savory pork links and buttery noodles. The sweetness in the wine actually highlights any seasoning in the sausage and the acidity shines right through all the fatty, cheesey, porky goodness of the meal. So that would be my first recommendation – a slightly sweet German riesling. I would look for the word Spatlese on the label, which indicates that the grapes were picked slightly later than the first harvest and usually means a touch of sugar is left in the wine. Likewise, you want the wine pretty fresh if you’re looking in the $8-$15 range. 2005 and 2006 are your best bets for racy acidity.

If you’re deadset on a red, Germans do make a light red from Pinot Noir called Spatburgunder. They’re not easy to find, a bit pricey, but worth checking out if you’re at a larger wine store. Otherwise, maybe try a red from neighboring Austria? They make some funky reds called Zwiegelt, Blaufrankisch, and St. Laurent. You might find one of these at $15 or less at a fancy wine store or even Whole Foods.

 Here is the moment where many of my dear readers start to think, “Blah, blah, blah. Just tell me what to buy.”

 Well, OK. Here are my suggestions for the listener above. His senior pals, who don’t drink a lot of wine, want something casual and inexpensive. These are suggestions I came up with based on a quick internet search of major stores in our area…

At Sam’s Wine & Spirits:

Dr. Fischer Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2005 $14

Studert Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2005 $15

At Binny’s:

Hirschbach Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese 2005 $9

Dr. Loosen Dr. L Riesling 2005 $14

And if you’re just running out to Jewel or Dominicks:

Chateau St. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2005 $8 (Washington State)

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2005 $8 (Washington State)

I should mention that “Yes, I know Oktoberfest actually occurs mostly in September and is usually over by the 2nd of October.” So you smarty pants readers don’t need to e-mail me to that effect. As far as I’m concerned, any one who wants to grill pork and drink during the cooler days of Fall can throw whatever kind of party they like and should be applauded. Especially seniors. I hope I’m that cool when my membership to AARP kicks in. “Prost!”

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