Oktoberfest: a wine and a dish (J & S Selbach Kabinett 2003 and Sauerkraut)

I wish to dine and have wine with my dish. Even though it's Oktoberfest season, beer is not a mandatory drink should you feel like getting festive. It's especially not required when serving a francisized regional recipe for sauerkraut, known as choucroute, which calls for a nice northern white wine for simmering.

That's what got me to uncork the 2003 J & S Selbach Kabinett Riesling. It opens with white flowers and honeydew on nose. There's melon and apple on palate with interesting smoky notes, perhaps flint-based. Very delicate overall with some depth and a smidge of effervescence. It's a balanced and enjoyable wine and only 10% alcohol, which is quite traditional for a German Riesling.

For such a stately representative, try making an equally alluring artefact from the region. Like I said, it not only pairs well, it also calls for the wine in the recipe.

Choucroute recipe

8 slices bacon, roughly diced
3 onions
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
2 apples, cored and sliced
1 head cabbage, shredded as finely as you can
3/4 cup Riesling
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, approximate
1/4 cup gin
12 peppercorns
3 bay leaves
6 cloves

choucrouteHeat a six-to-eight-quart enameled cast-iron casserole (do not use aluminum or black iron) and sauté the bacon until clear.

Add the onions and garlic and lightly brown them. Add the apples, sauerkraut, vegetable stock and wine. Also add the juniper berries (I've substituted this traditional ingredient with just gin as you can see from the list above), peppercorns, and bay leaves into the pot. Optionally, add a some cloves.

Cook for 2 hours on medium-low heat, keeping the pot just at a simmer.

Serve with a local Riesling or a white Alsatian wine, perhaps a Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris.

Weingut Tyrell Karthauserhof, Zeltinger, Himmelreich, Deutschland. 10%.

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