Viognier vs Riesling: Aromatic White Wines

Characteristics Viognier Riesling
Hue Pale Lemon Pale Lemon
Color White White
Aromas Apricot, peach, floral Floral, citrus, stone fruit, petrol/gas
Sweetness Typically dry Range from dry to very sweet dessert wine
Acid Medium minus High
Alcohol (%) 13-15% 8-13%
Body Full Light to medium
Intensity Moderate to pronounced Moderate to pronounced
Key Growing Regions Rhône Valley, California Germany, Alsace, Austria
Classic Pairings Asian cuisine, rich seafood Spicy cuisine, Asian dishes
Price Range $15-$40 $10-$40

Viognier vs Riesling are fun wines to compare.

Both Viognier and Riesling are aromatic wines, but Viognier is fuller-bodied and has lower acid than Riesling. Viognier has fruit cocktail aromas, Riesling has citrus and petrol aromas.

It’s actually a great sign that you’re thinking about comparing Viognier vs Riesling. If you like one of these white wines, you’re probably going to enjoy the other.

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.

Riesling Basics: Many Styles

riesling wine infographic - viognier vs riesling

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.

Fun Wine Fact: Riesling is considered one of the most age-worthy white wines, developing complexity over time. The grape’s high acid acts as a preservative.

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

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

Wine Comparison: Viognier vs Riesling

viognier vs riesling guide - wine glasses

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

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 much lower acid than Riesling.
  • 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.

Riesling Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Riesling wines cover the spectrum from bone-dry to off-dry. Riesling makes sweet dessert wines and sparkling wines, too, called Sekt.
  • Alcohol: Riesling wines generally have a moderate alcohol content, ranging from around 12% to 14% ABV. Off-dry Riesling wines with a little sweetness to them, like Kabinet styles, will have around 8% ABV, making them a great choice for drinkers watching their alcohol intake.
  • Body: Riesling typically has a lighter body than Viognier.
  • Acid: Riesling typically has higher acid Viognier, making it seem fresher and lighter in your mouth.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Riesling is a beautifully aromatic wine, similar to Viognier.
  • Flavors: Expect citrus, stone fruit, floral notes, honey, and even petrol in your Riesling wines.

Are Viognier and Riesling Similar?

Yes, Viognier and Riesling are similar. They are both aromatic white wines 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 Riesling?

Viognier is different than Riesling because it has lower acid. This will give Viognier a fuller-bodied profile and feel rounder in your mouth.

Viognier vs. Riesling Winemaking

While winemakers may oak Viognier and Riesling, this is uncommon because both wines are aromatic. Additionally, Riesling wines are often made in a range of styles, from dry to luscious sweet dessert wines and even 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. Riesling: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

viognier vs riesling - asian noodles

Viognier’s full-bodied and aromatic nature makes it an excellent companion for richer dishes, including creamy pasta and oven-roasted poultry. Riesling, with its lighter and off-dry style, works well with lighter dishes, and even cuisine that has a little spice to them. Pad Thai, anyone?

Both Viognier and Riesling benefit from being served chilled. Place them in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. Enjoy Riesling right of the fridge. Let your Viognier open up for 10-15 minutes before sipping.

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 Riesling?

viognier vs riesling - wine shelf

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

Riesling Cost

Riesling caters to various budgets. Entry-level Rieslings are accessible, often around the $10 USD range. A higher quality bottle from Germany or Alsace will cost around $20 – $30 USD. Expect boutique and premium bottles to be in the $40-$80 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 Riesling?

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 zippier, fresher wines with bite to them, then Riesling is for you. If you’re watching alcohol intake, Riesling comes in lower alcohol styles.

Final Thoughts – Viognier vs Riesling

Viognier and Riesling are both beautifully aromatic white wines. These are both fantastic wines for new wine drinkers that are expressive and easy drinking. Riesling offers a greater range of styles and is a perfect choice for wine lovers who enjoy slightly sweeter wines.

The best way to learn about Viognier and Riesling wines is to do a side-by-side tasting. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Viognier and Riesling, gather some friends, and sip away!

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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