Wine's greatest strength, as compared with other adult drinks, is its unrivaled ability to taste different with different foods. Wines that taste too dry or too sweet, or too earthy or too fruity, when sipped alone can suddenly taste magically delicious when paired with the right dish. However, wine's greatest weakness is precisely the same as its strength. Wines that taste just right can suddenly taste downright awful when partnered with the wrong dish. It's all about the food chemistry with wine, and while the rewards of success are certainly worthwhile, there's no question that there are steeper risks involved in choosing which wine to drink with dinner, compared with beer or cocktails. Back when meals were strictly meat and potatoes, prepared in predictable European fashion, it wasn't all that hard to choose food-flattering wines, but the globalization of food poses a wealth of challenges. Yet there is one wine style that can handle even the thorniest of pairings with ease: lightweight whites that feature sky-high acidity, low alcohol and a whisper of sweetness, such as this mouth-watering example from Washington, with flavors of lime, green apple and jasmine tea. Whether the pairing challenge is spicy heat or sugary glazes, leafy green veggies or citrus-y tartness, there's just nothing that can faze these wines. And, the best-kept secret in the wine world is how delicious they taste with meat and potatoes, too.
Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley, Wash. $18.99 (regularly $22.99; sale price through Sept. 30). PLCB Item #2510.