The sweet wine Riesling is a favorite for hot summer days, and often used as a dessert wine year-round. Originally a German cultivar, the grapes are now also grown in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. These wines tend to have floral bouquets and peach, honey and apricot flavors. Rieslings are a great alternative to White Zinfandel and a polar-opposite to Chardonnay.

The grapes grown just over the Franco-German border in Alsace tend to develop a more complicated flavor, and are best at five to eight years. German Rieslings are good for three to five years but American Rieslings are not this advanced; these wines need to be consumed within two years and do not age well.

A newcomer to the market, Anew, is located in Paterson, Wash. It sources grapes from across the state and blends an American Riesling packaged in a lovely clear, sculpted bottle, with a visually pleasing line drawing of a flower on the label.

Like it or not, packaging can boost sales, and provide “wine points” when you take a bottle to a party.

There is not a prettier Riesling bottle on the shelves at this time, which, according to the parent company, is the point. A product of Chateau Ste. Michelle, marketer Rebekah Gunderson states: “Anew Riesling is perfect for the woman who enjoys an active, healthy lifestyle but also seeks time to relax and rejuvenate. The slender and elegant Anew bottle and stylized floral label evoke a feminine sensibility and invites a moment of relaxation.” And it comes in a screwcap, so no manly muscles required for the corkscrew.

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The Wine:

Anew Riesling 2012, $11.99

The Vintner says:

Opening with aromas of bright fruit, subtle spice and citrus, Anew Riesling offers a harmonious blend of pure fruit flavor, heightened aromatics and balanced acidity. Expressive flavors of fresh peach and a hint of spice give this wine a crisp, refreshing essence. Grapes were sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope and Yakima Valley. The blend is almost entirely Riesling, with a touch of Gewurztraminer and Muscat to bring spice to the palate.

The Critics say:

“It has the merest touch of residual sugar, but a ton of ripe fruit, spicy apple and melon, minerality is good, crisp, clean, delicious, a really good Washington State Riesling.” — westcoastwine.net

The Gazette says:

The extremely pale straw color leads one to expect a lightly flavored wine. It is lighter on the sweetness, a plus in my book, but the floral nose and strong stone fruit flavor belie it’s appearance.

Continuing in the theme of visually pleasing bottles, the cobalt blue and minimalist labelling of Relax Riesling is just that: very relaxing. Deep ocean water relaxing. Produced by Schmitt S�hne in Germany’s Mosel river region, the Relax is designed to be drier than Schmitt S�hne’s other offerings in order to appeal to the American palate.

The website states: “Relax wines aren’t about complicated names or flashy labels. They’re for people who just want great-tasting, everyday wines without the gimmicks.” They have a blended red and pink wine, and a 100 percent Pinot Grigio, each in it’s own candy-coated color.

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The Wine:

Relax Riesling 2010, $8.99

The Vintner says:

Slightly dry with an enticing fruity bouquet, it shows intense flavors of apples and peaches with a hint of citrus. Serve chilled. Relax Riesling is delicious on its own, and it pairs perfectly with a variety of foods, from grilled seafood and poultry to spicy oriental dishes and fresh salads.

The Critics say:

“The taste of this light-bodied German Riesling consists primarily of pears and apples. It’s medium-sweet and has very smooth, low acidity. This isn’t a ‘fine wine,’ but it’s a decent wine for everyday drinking.” — wine-tasting-reviews.com

The Gazette says: A very pale yellow with a hint of green, low acid, faint nose, and taste of pears and ripe grapes. Best with food, such as a cheese and sausage plate, or as a spritzer, halved with cold club soda.

Next week: a review of Nine Hats and Snoqualmie’s “Naked.”

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