Enjoy A Delightful Wine Pairing from Michigan Wine Country: UP NORTH Semi-Sweet Riesling 2011 with a Cal-Asian Chinese Chicken Salad

 Riesling is one of the fastest growing white wines in the US today.


I have always been a die-hard fan of the Riesling grape because of the beautiful and delicate wines they produce. Riesling wines are versatile with food pairings and express a unique balance between acid and sugar levels. The enticing lush, floral and soft fruit aromas and mouth-tingling acidity had me at the first sip. From dry to semi-sweet to the extremely sweet late harvest dessert wines, there is a Riesling for every occasion and food pairing.

The Riesling Grape:

Although the beautiful and historic Rhine River Valley of Germany is the birthplace of the Riesling grape, it is widely planted all around the world including the wine countries of Washington State, New York, Oregon and Michigan.

Riesling is a cool weather grape that is fruity, aromatic and is distinguished by the retention of acidity. Riesling grapes produce soft, floral white wines that range from bone dry to honey-like sweetness and an abundance of mouth-watering acidity. Cool weather climate produces a very fresh grape and apple fruit character, naturally high acidity and balanced with sugar. Riesling grapes produce wines that reflect their terroir (location and climate) and it does not benefit from oak aging.

Michigan Wine Country:  A Grape-Friendly Climate especially for Riesling  (The 45th Parallel)

Roughly between 30 and 50 degrees in the northern hemisphere and 30 and 50 degrees in the southern hemisphere, Michigan is located within the grape friendly isothermal belt in the northern hemisphere. The diverse climate and terroir along with the moderating Great Lake effects are successful at growing French-American hybrid varietals in the cold-climate conditions with distinct expressive flavors and aromas that reflect the area from which they are grown. The best wines come from the vineyards where midsummer heat and midwinter cold is tempered by the soothing effects of an ocean, lake, river or coast line.

UP NORTH Semi-Sweet Riesling 2011:

Up North is a concept that was created by us at Eagle Eye Brands.  Jason Knysz, VP  said in an email: ” We really wanted to showcase the potential of Michigan Riesling. We love to hear of people outside of Michigan (and especially outside of the Midwest) that are trying and enjoying the wine. We really feel we can make world class Riesling in Northern Michigan. I highly recommend a trip up to Michigan wine country, particularly Lellanau, and my favorite, Old Mission Peninsula.” Well, Jason, I think I will visit Michigan wine country soon!

Eagle Eye Brands work closely with the best winemaker in Northern Michigan. His name is Bryan Ulbrich and he owns and makes wine for the winery Left Foot Charley. ” The grapes for Up North Semi Sweet Riesling come from 5 different single vineyard sites. Four of the vineyards are located on Old Mission Peninsula and one just on the other side of East Bay in Grand Traverse County. Strict yield management in the vineyards ensures a high quality harvest. Fermentation is halted partway through to preserve the natural sugars of this semi sweet Riesling. 

Why I love UP NORTH semi-sweet Riesling and believe you will too!

Ripe peach aromas and flavors swirl out of the glass of pale-gold wine with delightful, mouthwatering minerality reminiscent of lemon-lime acidity and a touch of tangerine. The pleasant sweetness which is perfectly balanced by the crisp acidity will be a perfect match for one of my favorite salads, The Chinese Chicken Salad.  This classic salad is a fusion of Asian flavors inspired by California cuisine and is my go-to summer salad.  Asian foods such as Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese are complex in flavor and layered with the balance of sweet, sour, salty, hot and a touch of umami. Semi-sweet Rieslings are perfect pairing wines, marrying the flavors of the wine with the intense flavors of the salad and cool the touch of heat by Sambal Oelek, a bright red hot chili paste.

*Enjoy this wine slightly chilled with a meal or warm summer evening at sunset with friends, they will love you for it!



UP NORTH semi-sweet Riesling 2011 is distributed by my friends at 100 Percent Italiano and is available in Nashville at the wine shop at Craft Brewed in Nashville at 2502 Franklin Pike. The knowledgeable and nice guys, Sean and Ryan, will take care of you!  Priced around $23 and worth every drop.


Chinese Chicken Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is one of my favorite salads of all time and just in time for summer weather dining! It comes really close to the famous salad at Chin Chins in LA and Wolfgang Pucks that I crave. The recipe is simple, ingredients are easy to find and it pairs so perfectly with this cool and refreshing Semi-Sweet Riesling from Michigan.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Cal-Asian
Serves: 12
  • 4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, blanched
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
  • For the dressing:
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup good apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 1½ tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1-2 t sambal oelek, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Directions
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.
  6. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  7. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin.
  8. Shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.
  9. Blanch asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
  10. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces.
  11. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
  12. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.
  13. Pour over the chicken and vegetables.
  14. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste.
  15. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds
  16. Serve cold or at room temperature.


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