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Grüner Veltliner vs Riesling

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Similarities of Grüner Veltliner & Riesling

Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are both white grape varietals with strong ties to central Europe. They are particularly popular in Germany and Austria – both countries produce some amazing, age-worthy iterations of the respective wines, that can be cellared for upwards of 30 years. These “serious” versions of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner often take on a deeper yellow color, verging on amber. 

Both of these grapes are made into a wide variety of wine styles, from affordable, easy-drinking table wines to more serious, higher-alcohol versions. While they have their own characteristics, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are generally considered to be quite tart, refreshing wines, with flavours of citrus, green apple, and occasionally honey. They are rarely aged in oak, and cheaper versions will almost always be a pure, invigorating white wine. 

Both wines are usually very high in acidity, exhibit mineral notes and can handle plenty of heat, making them excellent partners for Asian cuisine. Choosing between them can be a task, but they do have their differences and pros and cons, which we will go into further detail about now. 

Differences of Grüner Veltliner Versus Riesling

While Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are particularly popular in Central Europe, around Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, they originate from opposite ends of the region. Riesling is believed to have originated alongside the Rhine river in the west of Germany, while Grüner Veltliner likely came from Austria. 

Links have been made between Riesling and the Austrian Wachau vineyard called “Ritzling” – likewise, Grüner Veltliner has been linked to the northern Italian town Veltlin – but other than the name similarities, there is little evidence to prove the connection. 

Additionally, Riesling is a highly aromatic wine that often comes with a hint of sweetness that won’t be found in Grüner Veltliner. You’ll often find Riesling made in sweet, semi-sweet, or even botrytis-influenced dessert styles, while Grüner Veltliner is generally dry and tart. 

How To Distinguish Between Grüner Veltliner & Riesling

Sometimes, it is possible to tell the difference between Grüner and Riesling visually. Grüner Veltliner often has a hint of green in its hue, while Riesling is decidedly more yellow. 

You can also distinguish between them through smell. Grüner Veltliner generally has a far shier nose, with citrus, apple and pepper. Riesling will be more aromatic, with notes of stone fruits, citrus, and occasionally hints of petroleum – which indicates some aging. 

On the palate, Riesling should be perceptibly sweeter, even if you’re tasting a dry version. Look for hints of peach, pear, nectarine, citrus, apple, minerality, and sometimes honey or tropical fruits. With Grüner Veltliner, you can expect to find more classic citrus notes of lime, lemon and grapefruit, with minerality, herbaceous notes of pepper, and tart acidity. 

Grüner Veltliner vs Riesling Comparison Chart

Characteristic Grüner Veltliner Riesling
Sweetness Dry Dry – Sweet
Acidity High High
Tannins Low Low
Body Light – Medium Light – Medium
Tasting Notes Green apples, white pepper, citrus, wet rock minerality, hints of herbaceousness and florality.  Lime, green apples, stone fruits, and hints of petrol or minerality with floral and/or honeyed character.
Popularity 8,100 Monthly Searches 40,500 Monthly Searches
Calories Per Glass 100 calories 120 calories
ABV % 11 – 13%  11 – 13%

Pairing Food With Grüner Veltliner & Riesling

With their high levels of acidity, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are both famed for their ability to pair with a wide variety of food. Generally speaking, they will go better with light dishes, though an aged Riesling may be a match for a steak. Both of these wines can handle a lot of spice, so they are excellent partners for Asian cuisine. Think about pairing them with a creamy and spicy Thai curry, or a selection of sushi. 

Grüner Veltliner food pairing

Riesling food pairing