Fiano vs Riesling

HuePale lemon to goldPale lemon to gold
AromasCitrus, melon, honey, mineral, pearFloral, citrus, stone fruit
SweetnessDry to off-dryRange from dry to sweet
Alcohol (%)12-13%8-13%
BodyLight to mediumLight to medium
IntensityMediumMedium to pronounced
Key Growing RegionsItaly (Campania)Germany, Alsace, Australia,
Finger Lakes, Washington
Classic PairingsSeafood, pasta, poultryChicken, Pork, Spicy cuisine, Asian dishes
Price Range$20-$50$10-$40+

Fiano vs Riesling makes for a fun exercise. These are very different white wines.

Riesling is more aromatic and higher acid than Fiano, with floral and petrol. Fiano has lower acid, higher alcohol, and honey and mineral notes. Riesling comes in more styles.

TL;DR: If you like Riesling, you may enjoy Fiano.

Here’s what you need to know about Fiano vs Riesling.

Riesling Basics: Classic High-Acid White

fiano vs riesling - what's riesling wine taste like infographic

Riesling, a classic German grape, boasts a rich heritage and worldwide fame. Thriving in regions like the Mosel and Rheingau, Riesling displays a unique balance of sweetness, acidity, and minerality. Ranging from bone-dry to lusciously sweet, Riesling caters to various palates, making it a fun wine to explore.

Careful! Riesling is notorious for varying sweetness levels.

If you enjoy an off-dry, slightly sweet, lower-alcohol Riesling, you’re most likely drinking what’s called Kabinett or maybe even a Spätlese. These Riesling wines can be dry, but most often they’re made in an approachable, friendly, slightly sweet, non-sparkling style.

Helpful Tip: Go check out this complete guide to Riesling wines.

Today, Riesling has transcended its German roots, with vineyards in regions such as Alsace, France, Finger Lakes in the United States and Australia.

Fun Wine Fact: Riesling is known for its aging potential, with some high-quality Rieslings improving over decades. The grape’s naturally high acid acts as a preservative.

Fiano Basics: The Other Italian White

what's fiano wine taste like - fiano vs riesling

Fiano’s a white Italian wine grape at home in the Campania region of Southern Italy. For much of time, producers made Fiano in an oxidative style. Today, improvements in winemaking science have turned this little grape into a delightful white wine showcasing citrus, Asian pear, melon, mineral and honey notes.

Fiano will usually have a medium minus to medium body, and medium acid. It comes in dry and off-dry styles. Check out more on Fiano here.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: Look for wines with the Fiano di Avellino DOCG designation for a classic Fiano experience.

Wine Comparison: Fiano versus Riesling

Here’s a quick overview of the most common styles of Fiano and Riesling wines.

Riesling Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Riesling wines vary from dry to sweet, offering a broad range of styles.
  • Alcohol: Riesling wines typically have a low to medium alcohol content, ranging from around 8% to 13% ABV, often lower than Fiano.
  • Body: Riesling is known for its light to medium body.
  • Acid: Riesling showcases vibrant acidity, higher than Fiano
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Riesling boasts citrus notes, mineral undertones, and a complex aromatic profile. You may even smell petrol or gasoline.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes green apple, lime, slate, and sometimes a hint of petrol if aged. Riper grapes can give you stone fruit, like white peach.

Helpful Wine Tasting Tip: Riesling’s signature gasoline or petrol notes are what often help distinguish it in blind wine tastings. You won’t get this in Fiano wines.

Fiano Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Fiano wines lean towards dryness, but can be found in dry to off-dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Fiano wines typically have a Medium alcohol content, a little higher than many Riesling wines, ranging from around 11% to 13% ABV.
  • Body: Fiano is known for its medium body.
  • Acid: Fiano has medium acidity, lower than Riesling.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Fiano has citrus, melon, pear, mineral, and honey notes. It’s not usually as intense as Riesling wine.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes lemon peel, lime, honeydew melon, pear, mineral, and even a slight spice with age.

Are Fiano and Riesling Similar?

Fiano and Riesling are similar. Both wines showcase citrus flavors, making them suitable for light dishes and pairing well with seafood. Both wines are made using protective winemaking techniques to preserve their fresh aromatics.

What Is the Difference Between Fiano and Riesling?

Fiano is less aromatic and less acidic than most Riesling wines. While most Fiano wines are dry, they sometimes come in an off-dry style. Riesling wines are often off-dry and can even be made into very sweet ice wines.

Riesling vs. Fiano: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

chicken skewers - fiano vs riesling

Fiano will pair well with lighter cuisine. Lean into the wine’s citrus core when thinking about food pairing. Chicken, white fish, salads, creamy cheeses, and cream sauces will all pair well with Fiano.

Riesling, with its racy acidity and refreshing citrus notes, pairs exceptionally well with seafood dishes, salads, and light appetizers. If you have an off-dry style, then consider pairing it with foods that have chili heat, like Thai or Chinese take-out.

Both wines are best enjoyed chilled. 

Place them in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours before serving. For Fiano, remove the bottle from the refrigerator approximately 10-15 minutes before pouring to reach the ideal serving temperature. Riesling can be enjoyed immediately after opening.

Which Is More Expensive: Fiano vs Riesling

Wondering about bottle costs when comparing Fiano and Riesling? Riesling enjoys greater popularity overall and is more widely planted in many regions around the world, so the least expensive bottles cost less than Fiano.

Quality LevelRieslingFiano
Entry-level$10 – $15$20 – $30
Premium$25 – $40+$30 – $50

Riesling Wine Cost

  • Entry-level Riesling wines fall within accessible price ranges, usually ranging from $10 to $15 per bottle. These wines are known for their versatility, showcasing a broad range of styles suitable for various preferences, and can be dry to off-dry.
  • On the premium side, Riesling will have more intense flavors and aging potential. You’ll immediately notice just how pronounced they can be. Premium Riesling wines sourced from renowned regions can have prices ranging from $30 to $40 or more.

Helpful Tip: Riesling wines are definitely bottles you’ll find at your local grocery store. Check out this post for 9 quick tips on how to buy great grocery store wines.

Fiano Cost

  • Entry-level Fiano wines are more expensive on the export market than other Italian whites. Expect to pay $20-$30.
  • On the premium side, Fiano will have more intense honey and layered mineral notes. They may even have the ability to age. Premium Fiano wines will cost $30 to $50, but rarely more than that.

Which Is Better? Riesling vs Fiano

If you want a high-acid, linear, aromatic white wine, then Riesling is better. If you enjoy softer citrus, honey, minerality, and higher alcohol and minerality, Fiano is better. If you enjoy off-dry and sweeter wines, then some Riesling styles are better. If you are on a wine budget, then Riesling is less expensive than Fiano.

Psst…(Check out that Riesling wine guide).

Final Thoughts – Fiano vs Riesling

Fiano and Riesling are both refreshing white wines, but distinctive in their own right. Remember, Riesling will be more perfumed and aromatic, and also come in a range of styles. Fiano is citrusy and has layered honey and mineral notes.

Your Challenge: Get a similarly priced bottle of Fiano and Riesling and host a DIY tasting this weekend.

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