PLUS Our wine ex­pert Vic­to­ria Moore ex­plains why she still loves un­fash­ion­able wines

Is it time for un­fash­ion­able wines of by­gone days to make a come­back?

BBC Good Food - - Contents - Next month: Vic­to­ria rec­om­mends wines for Christ­mas and Box­ing Day @how_­to_­drink @plan­etvic­to­ria

e may snig­ger about Blue Nun, but I’ve poured it for un­sus­pect­ing friends to­wards the end of an evening and had them rave about it. What do they love? The girl­ish, meadow-like scent, for one thing. The sweet­ness, for an­other. Yes, I know it’s not pop­u­lar to talk about sweet­ness in wine, but this is sweet­ness like the juice of a ripe nec­tarine or the cool flesh of a fresh grape – which is ex­actly where it comes from. It’s an at­trac­tive qual­ity, if you think about it like that. Back in the day, medium-dry Ger­man wines such as Blue Nun and Black Tower were all the rage, but nowa­days we sneer at them. The words ‘hock’ and ‘liebfrau­milch’ are also wine no-nos, though I sus­pect most of us cringe with­out re­ally know­ing what they mean. Let me tell you.

Hock is an en­tirely Bri­tish term. It comes from

the word Hochheimer, mean­ing wines from the town of Hochheim am Main, near Frank­furt. Dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury, it sup­pos­edly de­notes any white wine from the Rhine area, though I’d ar­gue that we use it now to talk about a cer­tain style of cheap, sweet­ish Ger­man ries­ling. Liebfrau­milch is more spe­cific and ac­tu­ally has a le­gal def­i­ni­tion. At least 70% of the wine must be made from sil­vaner, ries­ling, müller-thur­gau or kerner; it must come from one of four re­gions (Nahe, Rhein­hessen, Pfalz or Rhein­gau) and it must be medium-dry (with be­tween 18 and

45 grams per litre of resid­ual sugar, to be pre­cise). Un­less you’re a wine geek (geeks love a bit of Ger­man ries­ling ac­tion) or a time trav­eller from the days when

Doc­tor Who had white bouf­fant hair, there’s a de­cent chance these wine styles won’t sound ap­peal­ing to you. Here’s a good rea­son to try them, or at least some­thing like them: mod­ern ver­sions of medium-dry Ger­man ries­ling are amaz­ing with many con­tem­po­rary foods that can oth­er­wise be tricky to

pair wines with. One ex­am­ple: Asian-in­flu­enced sal­ads and rice noo­dle dishes doused in lime, chilli and fish sauce dress­ings. The bright tang of ries­ling is great with lime, and the fruity suc­cu­lence of sweet ver­sions me­di­ates the ef­fect of the chilli and goes well with mango or papaya. A non-dry Ger­man ries­ling can also work well with the heat of harissa. I use this north African chilli paste to add some spice to chicken dishes, or mix it with olive oil, pome­gran­ate seeds and gar­lic, and use it as a mari­nade for roast quail. Ei­ther way, sweeter Ger­man ries­lings go beau­ti­fully with the fin­ished dish. In more tra­di­tional cook­ing, the pres­ence of sweet fruit also makes a case for one of these non-dry wines. Per­haps the most per­fect match here is roast pork, or a pork chop with a herb crust, served with stewed ap­ple sauce, or pommes boulangère with slices of eat­ing ap­ples lay­ered be­tween the pota­toes and onion. Try eat­ing some of these dishes with a glass of the ap­ple-y, re­fresh­ing, not-dry Dr L Ries­ling 2016, Ger­many (Ad­nams, £9.99).

Vic­to­ria Moore is an award-win­ning wine colum­nist and au­thor. Her new book, The Wine Dine Dic­tio­nary (£20, Granta), is out now.

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