Viognier vs Chenin Blanc: What You Need to Know

Characteristics Viognier Chenin Blanc
Hue Pale Lemon to gold Pale lemon to deep gold
Color White White
Aromas Apricot, peach, floral Green apple, pear, honey
Sweetness Dry to off-dry Dry to sweet
Acid Low to Medium Medium to High
Alcohol (%) 12-14% 12-14%
Body Full Light to medium
Intensity Moderate to pronounced Moderate
Key Growing Regions Rhône Valley, California Loire Valley, South Africa
Classic Pairings Asian cuisine, rich seafood Poultry, seafood, salads
Price Range $15-$40 $10-$30

Viognier vs Chenin Blanc are fun wines to compare.

Viognier is fuller-bodied, lower in acid, and more aromatic than Chenin Blanc. Viognier tastes like fruit cocktail. Chenin Blanc can come in a range of styles, from dry to sparkling, and expresses soft tree fruit and floral notes.

Depending on where you live in the world, Viognier and Chenin Blanc aren’t mainstream white wine grapes – at least not as common as Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio – so, if you’ve made it this far in your wine journey, here’s what you need to know about Viognier vs Chenin Blanc.

Viognier Basics: Fruit Cocktail in Your Wine Glass

viognier vs chenin blanc - 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.

Chenin Blanc Basics: Many Styles

viognier vs chenin blanc comparison - chenin blanc wine profile infographic

Originally from the Pineau region in the Loire Valley, France, Chenin Blanc remains closely connected to its origins where it makes a range of white wines – from dry, to sweet, and even sparkling.

But it has done some traveling. Today, Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted grape in South Africa.

Fun Wine Fact: In the 1980s, California had more Chenin Blanc planted than France, but it fell out of favor. Today, Chenin grapes are used to make non-descript, non-vintage white table wine in California. If you have a bottle of generic White California Wine, it probably has some Chenin Blanc in it.

Like many other wines, Chenin Blanc can go by different names. If you see any of the following on a bottle of white wine, it’s Chenin Blanc:

  • Steen (South Africa)
  • Bonnezeaux (France)
  • Pineau de la Loire (home of Chenin Blanc)
  • Savennières (France – arguably some of the highest quality Chenin Blanc in the world)
  • Vouvray (France – super popular Chenin Blanc producing region)
  • Quarts de Chaume (France – one of the world’s most exclusive dessert wines)

Helpful Tip: Go check out this complete guide to Chenin Blanc.

Wine Comparison: Viognier vs. Chenin Blanc

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

viognier-vs-chenin-blanc-infographic

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 Chenin Blanc.
  • 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.

Chenin Blanc Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Chenin Blanc wines cover the spectrum from bone-dry to off-dry. Chenin Blanc makes sweet dessert wines and sparkling wines, too.
  • Alcohol: Chenin Blanc wines generally have a moderate alcohol content, ranging from around 12% to 14% ABV.
  • Body: Chenin Blanc typically has a lighter body than Viognier.
  • Acid: Chenin Blanc typically has higher acid Viognier, making it seem fresher and lighter in your mouth.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Chenin Blanc is less aromatic than Viognier, with notes of green apple, belong, and tropical fruit.
  • Flavors: Expect a honeyed note in your Chenin Blanc, along with that green tree fruit.

Are Viognier and Chenin Blanc Similar?

chenin blanc vs viognier - white wine glasses

Yes, Viognier and Chenin Blanc are similar. They are typically made in a fruit-forward style that showcases the grapes’ flavors. These wines aren’t oaked very often.

What Is the Difference Between Viognier and Chenin Blanc?

Viognier tends to be more aromatic than Chenin Blanc, with luscious floral and stone fruit notes. Viognier tends to be lower in acid than most Chenin Blancs, giving it more body and mouthfeel. Many Chenin Blancs come with a little sweetness to them, making them off-dry. Most Viogniers are made in a fully dry style.

Viognier vs. Chenin Blanc Winemaking

While winemakers may oak Viognier and Chenin Blanc, this is uncommon because both wines are aromatic. Additionally, Chenin Blanc can be made in a range of styles, from dry to luscious sweet dessert wines and sparkling wines. Viognier is rarely made into dessert and sparkling wines.

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. Chenin Blanc: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

chenin blanc vs viognier guide - salads

Viognier’s full-bodied and aromatic nature makes it an excellent companion for richer dishes, including creamy pasta and oven-roasted poultry. Chenin Blanc, with its lighter style, works well with lighter dishes, from seafood to grilled chicken and salads.

Both Viognier and Chenin Blanc 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 Chenin Blanc?

wine store shelf - viognier vs chenin blanc

It’s natural to want to compare the price of Viognier vs Chenin Blanc, 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 Chenin Blanc, so entry-level Viognier is more expensive than Chenin Blanc (unless it’s a bulk white wine). Whenever I find a Viognier on sale, or even an entry-level Viognier, I grab it for my Wednesday night salad.

Chenin Blanc Cost

Chenin Blanc caters to various budgets. Entry-level Chenin Blancs are accessible, often in the $15 USD range. A higher quality bottle from South Africa will cost around $20 USD, and one from the Loire Valley, France (e.g., Vouvray AOC) will be $30-$50 USD. Expect boutique bottlings from California to be in a similar price range.

Helpful Tip: Here’s how wine bottles get priced. More expensive bottles don’t always mean better quality wine. This post is a little nerdy, but definitely gives you an idea of how complicated selling wine can be.

Which Is Better, Viognier or Chenin Blanc?

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 Chenin Blanc. If you’re looking at your wine budget, Chenin Blanc is often less expensive than Viognier.

Final Thoughts – Viognier vs Chenin Blanc

Viognier and Chenin Blanc are lovely, less common white wines that should be in your wine cellar (or shelf). Chenin Blanc comes in more varied styles, so it’s worth drinking widely to learn what you like and dislike about this white grape.

The best way to learn about Viognier and Chenin Blanc is to do a side-by-side tasting. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Viognier and Chenin Blanc, 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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