If when you think of Riesling you call to mind a blue bottle with the word RELAX in big bold letters, that's okay. It's an inexpensive wine and fine for what it is, which is not quite soda pop but definitely on the sweet side. To see what a winemaker can really do with this grape, we recommend Meyer Jean-Luc's 2004 Riesling (about $15 at wine shops and big box stores), an exquisitely dry white wine from France's Alsace region.
As it happens, 2004 was an exceptional vintage year for Alsatian Rieslings, so this is the grape at its best. The wine salutes the nose with plenty of fruit essence, notably pear, accented by light floral notes. Take time to savor before sipping, then discover how the soil in which the grape was grown transmutes pure fruit into a delicate, elegant, bone-dry elixir with the minerality, close to flintiness, of a white Bordeaux. The finish is clean and bracing.
This Riesling would go well with spicy Asian cuisine, but also would be good with a light summer salad of greens and fruit garnished with curls of a good white cheddar. We tried it alongside a chicken casserole hearty with tomatoes, bacon and peppers and found the pairing to be a very good fit.
Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor; John Bancroft is a freelance writer on food, wine and travel.