Dr. Loosen Riesling and Brazin Zinfandel

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From their glory days of the mid 1970s, German wines have struggled to maintain a footing in Canada. The main reason—not so puzzling as Cooper’s fate on Twin Peaks, but a conundrum nonetheless—is the variations of the signature riesling grape. It can be lean and crispy, and go all the way to unctuous and sweet. Consumers perhaps found it a safer bet, then, to stick with chardonnay, or these days, pinot grigio. But the Dr. Loosen Riesling (non-vintage, $20) is a fantastic reason to give German riesling another hard look. It has aromatics, apricots, green apples, and a hint of spice, plus great structure, plenty of racy acidity, and even a long finish you might expect on a wine twice as expensive. Just perfect for sipping while you cook, and since it is less than 10 per cent alcohol, you won’t necessarily run the risk of cutting a finger while chopping those onions.

A whole world away, really, is the Brazin zinfandel, $18, from Lodi, California. This is not for the faint of heart looking for a delicate gamay noir experience. Rather, the Brazin is full-throttle dark berry fruit, but with a pleasing acidity to cut through all that largesse, just enough to make it a great food wine, with enough left in the bottle to allow for pondering how Coop handles Annie, in the end.

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December 3, 2014