Best Riesling Wines

Not all bottles are sugary dessert sidekicks

Despite what Zac Brown says, cold beer isn't the only thing you can turn to after downing a plate of fried chicken. For the people behind some of New York's most celebrated restaurants, the answer lies in a chilled glass of wine.

Riesling might have a reputation for being the easily dismissed, overly sweet option of the wine world, but ask Thomas Pastuszak about the varietal and he'll give you a different take. For the wine director of The NoMad in NYC, Riesling isn't just a dessert sidekick, but a complex choice that can pair well with almost anything—even (and especially) fried chicken.

Need some convincing? All you have to do is sip your way through five of his top picks: wine glass in one hand, chicken sandwich in the other. 

2013 Peter Lauer Sekt

Made in the same style of Champagne, this bottle brings together "brioche, yeast and dough notes with a limey-appley fruit character and sparkling mineral character that lasts and lasts and lasts," Pastuszak says. 

2016 Empire Estate Dry Riesling

"New York's Finger Lakes is THE hottest region for Riesling in the U.S., and this is a zippy example that brings together lemon-lime minerality, plush stone fruit and rippling stony acidity."

2013 Jäger Steinriegl Federspiel

Pastuszak describes this bottle from the Wachau region of Austria as "floral and laced with minerality." It's a young wine that stands out for its hints of lemon, lime and tangerine. 

2017 Grosset Polish Hill

While most know Riesling as a sweet wine, this "bone-dry expression" from Australia has a "tangy and limey" quality, due to special soils that make vines struggle when growing grapes, leading to its characteristic flavor.

2015 Weiser-Kunstler, Kabinett, Mulheimer Sonnenlay

Back in Germany (where Riesling originally cultivated), you'll find a husband-and-wife team producing bottles with a "laser-like acidity." According to Pastuszak, a sip is all it takes to experience the "gentle fruity" notes and "the backbone of minerality from the pure-slate soils."