Many grapes have a day dedicated to them, but the Germans are – somewhat greedily – claiming the whole of July for their riesling grape. During the '31 Days of German Riesling' restaurants and independent retailers will be holding numerous tastings and events (see 31daysofgermanriesling.co.uk).
Frankly, I see no reason why every day of the year shouldn't be a riesling day, or, failing that, every warm summer's day at least. With its combination of intense flavour, lightness of being and sharp, appetising tang, German riesling is uniquely refreshing and delightful. Thanks to its range of styles, we can enjoy the drier wines for their food-matching affinities and the sweeter whites for their indulgent, pleasure-giving properties.
Over the years, German riesling's reputation has suffered from complicated names, association with lesser grapes like Italico Riesling and the abomination of watery liebfraumilch. It takes a while to rebuild, but since the early 1990s, German riesling really has been doing just that. Its dry whites are richer, more complex and more savoury than the thin, acidic wines of yesteryear. Its sweeter styles, from featherweight kabinett, through juicier, sweeter spätlese to delicately thrilling auslese and beyond, get better and better, aided and abetted by a series of vintages in which nature has smiled on Germany.
Howard Ripley (020 8748 2608) is a German riesling specialist in both dry and sweet riesling from the cracking 2012 vintage en primeur; he has great wines from the likes of Schäfer-Fröhlich, Van Volxem, Keller, Peter Lauer and Fritz Haag. The Wine Barn (thewinebarn.co.uk) is another specialist with a mouthwatering list and David Motion's The Winery (020 7286 6475) in Maida Vale is a riesling lovers' paradise.
Among thirst-quenching rieslings to try this summer, Tanners (01743 234500) does a fine job with its own-brand 2011 Tanners Mosel Riesling, £10.95, a bantamweight Mosel riesling from Max Ferdinand Richter with lovely juicy ripe fresh pear fruitiness.
Also from the fine 2011 vintage, is the 2011 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett, Paulinshof, £15.56-£16.50, Morrisons, Great Western Wine (01225 322810) which has a refreshing spritz, appley bite and exotic lemon and lime citrusy character. Or immerse yourself in the delicately fragrant 2011 Losen Bockstanz Riesling Slate Spätlese, Wittlicher Portnersberg feinherb, Mosel, £9.99 virginwines.com, a riesling full of juicy, off-dry pineappley clarity of flavour.