Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2011 Joseph Händler Riesling - cheap, sweet white wine

At $5 a bottle, this is the cheapest Riesling I have ever seen. I love Trader Joe’s, I love a good wine bargain, and I love Riesling, so I had to try it. How is it? The short answer: no thanks.  

2011 Joseph Händler Riesling review 

Nose and Palate: Without swirling the glass, the wine gives off tons of honey, white flowers, and canned pear, as well as a little apple. When you swirl the glass, this brings out aromas of hot, wet rocks and a hint of dog food. So don’t swirl the glass. 

On the palate… Ugh! Whoa! It took me several sips and spits to get acclimated enough to look for flavors. So not the best wine right off the bat, but once I got used to it I found honey, pear, and apple, with an undertone of bitterness. Some ultra-cheap wines have a bitterness that comes from crushing the grapes too hard: crushing this hard gets more juice (hence cheaper), but tends to crush the grape seeds which release a bitter flavor. 

Now a lesson on acidity. There are two primary ways of determining a wine’s acid levels: the mouth/tongue watering after spitting/swallowing, or an electric tingle running up the jawline and tightening the hinge where the jawbone connects to your skull. The medium sweetness in this wine masks the mouth-watering aspect of acidity, but this wine sent shockwaves up my jawline so hard that the hinge of my jaw hurt for 10 minutes after I was done tasting this wine. 

Between the wet rock and dog food smells, bitter taste, and jaw-bruising acidity, I felt abused by this wine. I love Riesling and review more Rieslings than any other wine. Please don’t let this bad example ruin Riesling for you. Check out my other Riesling posts to find some beautiful wines! 

What do you think of this wine? What are some good value Rieslings or good cheap wines from Trader Joe's? Let me know in the comments section below. 

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  1. How unfortunate. I was so excited for a good cheap white wine! Maybe next time...

  2. Trader Joe's has good wines for $5, no doubt, but sadly this is not one of them. The 2010 Joseph Handel was pretty good, so maybe the 2012 will be a return to goodness!

  3. I've found myself that a lot of cheap (and sometimes, unfortunately, not so cheap) white wines and roses have a strange plasticine finish. My threshold for cheap whites/roses is whether or not they have that finish--if not, we have ourselves a freakin' winner!

    1. Plasticine? Good way of describing the cheap wine. I was with friends a few months ago and they opened some Whole Foods Three Wishes (three dollars). They wanted my honest opinion, and I couldn't find the right word, but plasticine would have been great.