Columbia River Landing Riesling 2013

The Columbia River takes it’s time getting from the source in the Canadian Rockies to where it empties into the Pacific ocean.  During the last 309 miles or so of it’s over 1200 mile journey, it serves as the border between Washington and Oregon.  Along the way, it has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Northwest United States and serves a variety of ecosystems from alpine to wetlands – some perfect for growing grapes.  In fact, the Columbia Gorge winegrowing region boasts over 30 wineries.

Winemaker:  Columbia River Landing
Varietal:  Riesling
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Columbia Valley, WA
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This cheap Riesling from Trader Joe’s was a vivid yellow color.  Light-bodied, it had decent acidity and 10.5% alcohol.  Not surprisingly, it was sweet and presented mostly fruit flavors of peach and melon.

Columbia River Gorge


Wine For Baking?

That was the question I asked myself.  Not because I was putting wine INTO baked goods.  I am an observer rather than a participant when it comes to baking.  It’s probably better that way for everyone concerned.

So, why “wine for baking?”  You see, my household has become addicted to the Great British Bake Off.  As a result, we have been binge-watching the show “on demand” first and then online “streaming.”  Here’s the interesting thing – nobody here is a baker.  So why are we so fascinated by this British reality television competition?

With a sea of reality TV options serving up anger, animosity, self-centered “stars'” and conspicuous self-indulgence, The Great British Bake Off stands out as a positive, interesting, and informative show about real people.  These people are all truly amateur bakers – from housewives to medical students to construction workers.  Some, of course, are hoping to do more with their avocation.  Even so, they remind us of people we know and care about.  And before we know it, we care about how those participants are doing in their bakes.

The judges are tough but not mean.  The two hosts are funny but don’t completely steal the focus from the participants.  And the show is forthright about letting the contestants practice some of the baking challenges at home in advance.  Instead of ruining the competition, it makes the results of their efforts that much more interesting.  It seems practice doesn’t always make perfect!  In other words, what might seem like a potentially boring show is anything but.

Thus, I recently found myself shopping my local wine stores for something to accompany an evening of vicarious baking.  This is one of the bottles I chose for that purpose.

Winemaker:  Robert Mondavi
Wine:  Private Selection Riesling
Varietal:  Riesling
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Central Coast, California
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  A pale yellow with a greenish tinge, this light-bodied Riesling was high in acidity and a tad off dry at 12.5% alcohol.  For me it presented a fairly simple flavor profile including tangerine, a touch of honey and grass.  I liked it – especially for something to sip while I watched folks struggle to make perfect macaroons on schedule.  It would also be good with a light cheese course or a gently spicy chicken or seafood entree.