Viognier vs Chardonnay: Two Full-body White Wines

viognier vs chardonnay wine infographic

Viognier vs Chardonnay are fun wines to compare.

Viognier and Chardonnay are both fuller-bodied white wines. Viognier has lower acid than Chardonnay and is more aromatic. Chardonnay comes in a range of styles, from crisp to buttery. Chardonnay is more popular and more widely available at all price points than Viognier.

These wines provide an enchanting opportunity for white wine enthusiasts to discern and appreciate the nuances of their distinct flavor profiles, origins, and characteristics.

Viognier Basics: Fruit Cocktail in Your Wine Glass

viognier vs chardonnay - viognier wine profile

Viognier, originating from the Rhône Valley in France, is an aromatic, fruity white wine that has a fuller, luscious body. It has classic notes of stone fruit, like peach and apricot, along with honey, rose, and tangerine.

You’ll find Viognier grown in South Africa, Australia, and California as well.

Helpful Tip: If you’re new to Viognier, here’s a quick Viognier wine guide to help you appreciate its unique characteristics.

Chardonnay Basics: Classic White Wine

viognier vs chardonnay - chardonnay wine profile infographic

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. Also from France, Chardonnay crafts wines that differ depending on the growing climate, from steely and acidic with minerality, to luscious stone and tropical fruits.

Chardonnay is often called a winemaker’s grape because the winemaker can play with different winemaking techniques to make different styles of Chardonnay.

Helpful Tip: Go check out this complete guide to Chardonnay wine.

Wine Comparison: Viognier vs. Chardonnay

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Viognier and Chardonnay.

Characteristics Chardonnay Viognier
Hue Pale lemon to deep gold Pale lemon to deep gold
Color White White to golden
Aromas Green apple, citrus, butter Apricot, peach, floral
Sweetness Range from dry to off-dry Dry
Acid Moderate to high Low to Moderate
Alcohol (%) 13-15% 12-14%
Body Medium to full Medium to full
Intensity Moderate to pronounced Moderate high to pronounced
Key Growing Regions Burgundy, California – Most Major Winegrowing Regions Globally Rhône Valley, South Africa, California, Australia
Classic Pairings Chicken, seafood, creamy pasta Seafood, spicy dishes, Asian cuisine
Price Range $10-$50 $15-$40

Viognier Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Viognier tends to be made in dry styles, but less expensive wines may be off-dry
  • Alcohol: Viognier wines typically have a moderate to high alcohol content, ranging from around 13% to 15% ABV.
  • Body: Viognier is known for its full-bodied, creamy texture on the palate.
  • Acid: While still providing freshness, Viognier tends to have lower acidity compared to Chardonnay.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Viognier boasts intense floral and stone fruit aromas with a rich, honeyed character.
  • Flavors: Expect flavors of apricot, peach, honeysuckle, and sometimes a hint of spice.

Chardonnay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Chardonnay wines cover the spectrum from bone-dry to off-dry. Less expensive Chardonnay often has a little residual sugar from unfermented grape juice in it for sweetness.
  • Alcohol: Chardonnay wines generally have a moderate alcohol content, ranging from around 12% to 14% ABV.
  • Body: Chardonnay exhibits a diverse range of body, from light and crisp to full and creamy, depending on winemaking choices.
  • Acid: Chardonnay can showcase a broad spectrum of acidity, from vibrant and zesty to more rounded and soft.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Chardonnay’s profile varies widely, with notes of green apple, citrus, tropical fruit, and sometimes hints of vanilla and butter.
  • Flavors: Styles range from unoaked, highlighting bright fruit, to oaked, introducing creamy textures and nuances of oak influence.

Are Viognier and Chardonnay Similar?

viognier vs chardonnay - wine glasses

Viognier and Chardonnay are similar. They are both fuller-bodied white wines. If you enjoy the richer styles of Chardonnay, you’re likely to enjoy Viognier.

What Is the Difference Between Viognier and Chardonnay?

Viognier tends to be more aromatic than Chardonnay, with luscious floral and stone fruit notes. Viognier tends to be lower in acid than most Chardonnays.

Viognier vs. Chardonnay Winemaking

Chardonnay has what’s called “an affinity for oak”, meaning that the flavors that come from oak barrel aging complement the wine. You’ll often find oaked Chardonnays described as toasty with caramel notes. While winemakers may oak Viognier, this is uncommon because Viognier is a beautifully aromatic wine.

Fun Wine Fact: Viognier is often co-fermented with Syrah in the Northern Rhône to add aromatic complexity and silkiness to the red wines.

Viognier vs. Chardonnay: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

viognier vs chardonnay - pasta dish

Viognier’s full-bodied and aromatic nature makes it an excellent companion for richer dishes, including creamy pastas and oven-roasted poultry. Chardonnay, with its many styles, pairs well with a range of foods, from seafood to grilled chicken and even heartier dishes like lobster or roasted pork.

Personal Note: Here’s a list of my 5 favorite everyday Chardonnay wine pairings for normal people.

Both Viognier and Chardonnay benefit from being served chilled. Place them in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Helpful Tip: Here’s a list of popular wine styles and their recommended serving temperatures that is easy to use (no thermometers required).

Which Is More Expensive, Viognier vs. Chardonnay?

wine store shelf - viognier vs chardonnay

It’s natural to want to compare the price of Viognier vs Chardonnay, so here’s what you need to know.

Viognier Cost

Entry-level Viognier wines are often reasonably priced, falling between $12 to $18 per bottle. These selections deliver a decent Viognier experience without straining your budget. Premium Viognier wines can be found in the range of $20 to $40+.These bottles promise a rich and layered fruit and floral profile.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: Viognier isn’t as popular or widely planted as Chardonnay, so entry-level Viognier is more expensive than Chardonnay. Whenever I find an inexpensive Viognier, I grab it.

Chardonnay Cost

Chardonnay, with its widespread availability, caters to various budgets. Entry-level Chardonnays are accessible, often in the $8-$12 USD range. A higher quality bottle, for example, a 90+ point Chardonnay from Burgundy, France, starts around $35 USD, but you can find beautiful 90+ Chardonnays from other regions for under $20 USD as well. Shop around! 

Which Is Better, Viognier or Chardonnay?

If you love a full-bodied, aromatic wine with intense floral and stone fruit notes, Viognier is the better choice for you. If you enjoy more neutral white wines, then buy Chardonnay. If you’re looking at your wine budget, Chardonnay is less expensive than Viognier.

Final Thoughts – Viognier vs Chardonnay

Viognier and Chardonnay are lovely white wines that should be in your wine cellar (or shelf). Chardonnay comes in more varied styles, so it’s worth drinking widely to learn what you like and dislike about this white grape. Personally, I feel that Viognier is an intoxicating and under-rated white wine that’s worthy of your time whenever you come across it.

The best way to learn about Viognier and Chardonnay is to do a side-by-side tasting. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Viognier and Chardonnay, gather some friends, and pop those corks!

Thirsty for More?

I’m a big believer in side-by-side tastings to enhance your wine knowledge. Here’s how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Chenin Blanc vs Chardonnay, two more white wines you should be able to tell apart.

You should be able to find delightful wines at every price point. Explore this post on how to discover hidden gems under $50.

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