The mofo guide to | Pinot noir

Nick Baum
By Nick Baum
3 months ago
4 min read

Pinot noir - where do you start with the grape with such a storied history? Forget the textbooks - we’re just focusing on the need-to-knows here. What it is, what to expect, what it does so well. Bish, bash, bosh - pour us a glass and let’s get started.


What’s great about pinot noir

It’s the “heartbreaker” grape that’s stolen our hearts and captured our palates - pinot noir. And why wouldn’t it? It’s got everything you want in a wine when it’s at its best - lashings of fruit flavour, silky smooth tannin, and depth for days. Most famously known as the major red player in Burgundy, it’s also being used to make great premium drops in Australia and New Zealand too. Most of us picture pinot noir as a still red wine - but it’s also one of the principal grapes used in Champagne, a blend that’s mirrored worldwide in other cracking traditional method sparkling wines.


What to expect with a pinot noir

Pinot noir is great at showcasing where it’s grown (“expressing terroir”, if you’re into your vino lingo) so there’s lots to compare and contrast in the world of pinot, depending on where it’s made. When it’s young you’ll typically see fresh, tart red fruits - think fresh-off-the-stem strawberries or raspberries - plus sultry floral aromatics and dried herbs, with silky tannin and light colour complimentary of its inherently thin skin. Or, if you want to put it simply, just plain delicious. And you can expect to see more of that deliciousness develop as it gets to know itself in bottle; as it ages those tannins smoothen out even further, and that savoury component further reveal itself to lend a wet-earthy, mushroom-umami flex too. 

What temperature should I serve pinot noir at?

For lighter styles of pinot noir, we recommend a little chill, but not too much. It wants to be cool, but not cold—around 12-16°C will do just fine. For your medium bodied mofos, room temperature (around 18°C) is great - again, this might mean it needs a quick spell in the fridge (10-20 minutes), if you’re planning to drink out on deck on a sunny arvo.


What foods pair with pinot noir?

As ever, our pairing advice is strictly “drink whatever you will with whatever you want” - we’re not going to stand in the way and deprive you in the joy of discovering your next favourite match. 

If you’re looking for a steer though, pinot noir does have some favourite foodie-playmates. For lighter, younger styles of pinot, grilled salmon or mackerel are a good shout, though if you’ve got a pinot on your hands that’s on the fuller, more savoury side (or has a few years of development under its belt) it’ll be a winner when paired with duck and game meats, grilled or roast lamb, mushroom heavy dishes - even something full and hearty like a beef stew, if you’re that way inclined. Use the same principle when pairings with cheese - for younger styles, go lighter and fresher (brie, or even a goat’s chevre) but those bigger pinots love a full-flavoured camembert or roquefort.

Want a few more suggestions? Here's our pairing guide for pinot noir.


When should I be drinking pinot noir?

Whenever and wherever you want! Pinot noirs a great year round sipper for any occasion - equally at home by the fireside in winter, or for when you’re firing up the grill with a few snags in summer. Paired with food (or straight up by itself) it’s a fantastically versatile wine that will answer the call to deliver good times and flavour any time you dial.

Feeling thirsty for some pinot? Over here for our latest and greatest.

And if you're keen for more, check out our guide to Kiwi pinot too.

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