You know Charles Smith wines by the flamboyant pop-art style labels that adorn each bottle. They’re eye-catching, yes, so those wandering the wine aisles at a loss are sure to pick up one or two for — if nothing else — amusement. I’ve tried every one of these under the Charles Smith Wines label and have found that the only one (to my palate) that lives up to its exterior is the Kung Fu Girl Riesling — this wine kicks ass…

About the Wine: Charles Smith Wines Kung Fu Girls is made from 100% Riesling from Charles Smith’s Evergreen Vineyard located in the Columbia Valley AVA in Washington State. The site’s soils, deposited from Columbia River flooding, range from sand to clay, while the climate is a steady one, as the vineyards slope from north to south.

Although I cannot confirm the fermentation techniques used for the Riesling, my best guess would be most, if not all, stainless steel.

12% ABV

Flavor Profile: You’ll understand the definition of “fruit forward” when you taste Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling. You’ll get a blast of soft, tropical, stone fruits — I’m talking mango, papaya, guava — and definitely a hint of lemon/lime zest mingling throughout it all. That all takes center stage, but there’s a little something in the background that’s worth taking note.

You may call it minerality, you may call it funk. Let’s put our hands together and call it a “funky minerality.” There an underlying scent that wafts up the back of the palate and into the nostrils while tasting that’s simultaneously reminiscent of gravely wet cement and organic mat flooring. Honestly, it kind of reminds me of the shock-resistant flooring you’ll find at a workout studio. How appropriate for Kung Fu Girl.

Lastly, like many wines of this ilk, I must urge you to drink this wine CHILLED. There is an ever so slight effervescence that breaks through that fruit bomb in the front palate that you cannot (well should not) miss. But you’ll only get that little extra spice if you drink this wine Champagne-cold.

Food Pairing: Charles Smith says Kung Fu Girl Riesling pairs well with “Delicious Thai or Chinese take out, five spice pork or duck, fresh seafood.” And I have to agree…in part. Delicious Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and even Indian or Philipino inspired meals pair well with this wine. But I’m not a take-out kind of girl (I’m a Kung Fu Girl…haha…).

The best dish I’ve had with Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl: Grilled Swordfish, steamed Jasmine rice, surrounded by a spicy coconut curry broth OR a spicy mango salsa. It also works well with pan-seared Halibut or lean, white fish of choice. Recipe…to come.

The point is, you want it with something that’s soul-fully spicy (aka well-balanced). That’s why celebrating the flavors of these ethnic cuisines pair so well with Kung Fu Girl.

More Info: Charles Smith has 8 labels under his name and, although all his grapes are Washington grown, he celebrates all varietals from this very American Riesling to an Italian-inspired Sangiovese. I said i’ve tried the wines under the Charles Smith Wines label, and am less than impressed with most. Nonetheless, I am curious to try wines from Charles under other labels — specifically K Vintners Syrah (the wine that started his career) and Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon (apparently this wine is pitch black).

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see any of these labels available in local markets. Most of the Charles Smith Wines collection can be found and purchased in any major store. This Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling can even be found at Costco (Sale Price: $7.99).

For more information about any of Charles Smith’s wine labels, visit the Charles Smith website. Cheers!

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