Vermentino vs Riesling

riesling vs vermentino wine comparison infographic

Comparing Vermentino vs Riesling is a fun side-by-side. These two white wines have much in common.

Vermentino and Riesling are both crisp white wines with citrus notes. Riesling is more aromatic and higher acid than Vermentino. Riesling comes in more styles.

TL;DR: If you like Riesling, you’ll probably enjoy Vermentino.

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

Riesling Basics: Classic High-Acid White

vermentino 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.

Vermentino Basics: Mediterranean Classic

vermentino vs riesling wine - what's vermentino wine taste like

Vermentino, a true Mediterranean wine, offers a captivating experience. With origins in regions such as Italy, France (where it is known as Rolle), and Sardinia, Vermentino showcases a distinct character. 

Vermentino’s vibrant acidity and refreshing citrus profile pair well with sun-drenched terraces and light Mediterranean cuisine. 

Vermentino will usually have a medium body, providing more weight on the palate. Its flavor profile includes hints of tropical fruits, citrus zest, and sometimes a touch of saline minerality, reflecting its coastal vineyards.

Fun Wine Fact: Researchers now think that Vermentino’s been cultivated as a wine grape since the 1300s.

Wine Comparison: Riesling versus Vermentino

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

CharacteristicsVermentinoRiesling
HuePale lemon to strawPale lemon to gold
ColorWhiteWhite
AromasCitrus, green apple, white blossom, mineralFloral, citrus, stone fruit, petrol
SweetnessDry to off-dryDry to sweet
AcidMedium plusHigh
Alcohol (%)12-13%8-13%
BodyLight to medium minusLight to medium
IntensityMediumMedium to pronounced
Key Growing RegionsItaly (Sardinia, Liguria), France, SpainGermany, Alsace, Austria, Finger Lakes, Washington
Classic PairingsSeafood, salads, light pasta dishesChicken, pork, spicy cuisine
Price Range$15-$30$10-$40

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 Vermentino.
  • Body: Riesling is known for its light to medium body.
  • Acid: Riesling showcases vibrant acidity, higher than Vermentino
  • 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 Vermentino wines.

Vermentino Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Vermentino wines lean towards dryness, offering a range of dry to off-dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Vermentino wines typically have a moderate alcohol content, a little higher than many Riesling wines, ranging from around 11% to 13% ABV.
  • Body: Vermentino is known for its medium body.
  • Acid: Vermentino showcases vibrant acidity, a little lower than Riesling.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Vermentino boasts refreshing citrus notes and subtle floral undertones. It’s not usually as intense as Riesling wine.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes tropical fruits, citrus, and a hint of saline minerality if grown near the coast.

Are Vermentino and Riesling Similar?

Riesling and Vermentino are similar. Both wines showcase citrus flavors, making them suitable for light dishes and pairing well with seafood. If you enjoy Riesling, you’re likely to appreciate Vermentino as well.

What Is the Difference Between Vermentino and Riesling?

Vermentino is less aromatic and less acidic than most Riesling wines. While most Vermentinos 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. Vermentino: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

salad - Riesling vs Vermentino wine

Vermentino’s delicate fruit, mineral, and floral character make it a versatile companion for a variety of dishes, including appetizers, white meats, and lighter vegetarian cuisine.

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 Vermentino, 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: Vermentino vs Riesling

It’s natural to think about costs when comparing Vermentino and Riesling. Riesling enjoys greater popularity overall and is more widely planted, but you can find inexpensive and premium examples of both wines.

Quality LevelRieslingVermentino
Entry-level$10 – $15$12 – $20
Premium$25 – $50+$25 – $40+

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 $50 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.

Vermentino Cost

  • Entry-level Vermentino wines also fall within accessible price ranges, usually ranging from $12 to $20 per bottle. These wines are known for their pure fruit flavors that forefront freshness, perfect for casual sipping and pairing.
  • On the premium side, Vermentino will have more intense fruit flavors. You’ll immediately notice just how pronounced they can be. Premium Vermentino wines sourced from renowned regions can have wine prices of $25 to $40 or more.

Which Is Better? Riesling vs Vermentino

If you want a high-acid, linear, aromatic white wine, then Riesling is better. If you enjoy softer citrus and minerality, Vermentino is better. If you enjoy off-dry and sweeter wines, then some Riesling styles are better. (Check out that Riesling wine guide).

Final Thoughts – Vermentino vs Riesling

Vermentino and Riesling are both higher acid, refreshing white wines. Remember, Rieslign will be more perfumed and aromatic, and also come in a range of styles. Vermentino is citrusy and fresh, and not quite the power-house of acidity that you’ll normally experience with Riesling wines.

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

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