The mofo guide to | Riesling
A great riesling ticks all the boxes - it’s versatile, food friendly and age-worthy. From bone dry to incredibly sweet, it can be vibrant, floral, fruity and light, or rich and complex - even anywhere in between. Now’s the time to get in too, right before the market catches on and prices rise to match the incredible quality that’s on our doorstep.
Let’s dive into Germany’s greatest gift to the world.
Why mofos like riesling
One of the world’s top three white grapes (along with sauvignon blanc and chardonnay), riesling is one of the best white wines money can buy. An aromatic wine with a huge array of different flavours, from citrus fruits to fresh green apple, to peach and apricot - it’s versatile, to say the least. Riesling can also stand the test of time, with some examples capable of ageing for decades.
Originally hailing from the cooler climates of Germany, the best riesling wines are grown in cooler wine regions. The late budding nature of the vine allows it to survive spring frosts, and it needs a long growing season and sunshine to ripen to the right level. The naturally high acidity of the grape remains even when it reaches full ripeness, meaning even sweet, later harvest examples still have that refreshing hit.
Check out: Pikes 'Traditionale' Riesling 2022
What to expect with a riesling
Riesling (wherever it’s made) is renowned for its bright, refreshing acidity that keeps everything going on in balance. And we mean everything, because it can (almost) do it all.
Clare Valley & Eden Valley (SA), Great Southern (WA), King Valley (VIC) and Tasmania are all home to some of the best riesling you’ll find worldwide. Younger examples are typically noted for their lean racy with aromatic notes of elderflower blossom, lemon and lime citrus, green apple tang with some steely wet-stone flinty mineral notes to be found too.
In vintages or regions that have seen a bit more heat and sunlight over the growing season, you’ll also find more stone-fruited apricot and white peach in your glass too, even honey-blossom or candied fruits in late-harvest or aged examples. Riesling can also show classic notes of rubber and petrol as it ages, adding to the complexity of the drop - like vegemite not for everyone, but those who love it really love it.
There’s plenty to discover with riesling just in Australia, but worldwide Germany (the home of riesling) and Alsace (where it’s considered one of their “noble grapes”) are where you’ll find the most premium examples (and price tags) for riesling, given their recognised history.
Dry German rieslings are generally known for being more floral and citrusy, whilst Alsation rieslings are typically more stone-fruited. Some producers in Alsace also use large-format old oak in place of steel winemaking to round off a little of that acid and contribute a bit of body.
Check out: Anne-Laure Litz Tradition Riesling 2022
What temperature should I serve a riesling at?
Because of that naturally high acidity, riesling is best chilled to 7-10ºC (at least a couple of hours in the fridge before you plan to drink it). That way you’ll get the best of the aromatics and make the most of the refreshing acidity.
What foods pair with a riesling?
Riesling is a real all-rounder; you’ll find it recommended frequently when it comes to food pairings given its zesty freshness that can bring brightness and lift to any occasion.
Riesling excels with traditional Thai or Vietnamese fare, especially if you’re heading to a BYO joint. Pair it to roti with satay sauce, chicken pad thai or prawn green curry; likewise invite it along next time you’re tucking into a lemongrass chicken banh mi. It’s also a great oyster wine, pour yourself a long lazy glass if you’re planning to shuck a dozen on a sunny afternoon.
You’ll often see sweeter rieslings paired up with dessert on restaurant menus too, just make sure that the wine is going to be sweeter than the dessert, otherwise it’ll seem tart in comparison. If in doubt, opt for a lump of blue cheese and indulge in something truly hedonistic. It’s the best of both worlds - making even dry rieslings feel sweet in comparison against the savoury.
Our no bowties or bullsh!t recommendation though - riesling and fried chicken karaage. Try it once, love it forever.
Check out: Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2022
When should I be drinking riesling?
Riesling is an incredibly versatile food-pairing wine, but it’s also a perfect accompaniment to catch ups with friends in the spring/summer sunshine. Cooler climate examples are typically lower in alcohol too (even the dry examples), so make a good choice to reach for when you’re looking to keep things a bit lighter.
Check out: Crabtree Pomona Riesling 2023
Like chardonnay, style is everything - our Mofo Wine Dealers are always ready to chat if you’ve got more questions about which riesling would be perfect for your palate.
And if you're keen to check out a range, head to our Riesling Selection 9.0 case.