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Sauvignon Blanc vs Riesling

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Similarities of Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling

Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are both characterful and food-friendly white wines and are enjoyed all across the world. They are usually light-bodied, though they can both end up being slightly fuller, depending on where they are grown. Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are highly acidic, crisp and refreshing. 

They vary in color, but both can appear light yellow with a tinge of green. When it comes to their bouquet, they are on the expressive, aromatic side of the white wine spectrum. 

It is rare that either of these wines will be aged in oak, so they do not contain the buttery, savory notes of a Chardonnay, for example. Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc wines are usually pure expressions of the grape. 

Unlike most white wines, Riesling can be excellent for extended cellaring. Due to its high acid content and fruitiness, it can develop for years or even decades. This is also true of some very particular Sauvignon Blancs, such as high-quality ones from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé,  but in general, both are produced to be enjoyed immediately. 

Differences of Sauvignon Blanc Versus Riesling

Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Bordeaux region of France and is grown all across the world. It is produced in a fairly consistent manner but can pick up characteristics of the environment it is grown in. Sauvignon Blanc is particularly popular in New Zealand, where the slightly warmer climate produces a vibrant and fruity iteration of the wine. 

Riesling is also widely grown, but not in such copious amounts as Sauvignon Blanc. It is most popular in its home country of Germany, and neighboring Austria, where it is produced in a wide variety of styles. It has a reputation for being a sweet wine, but fantastic dry and off-dry Rieslings are pretty common. 

Sauvignon Blanc is almost always made in a dry style, so on average, Riesling will be sweeter than Sauvignon Blanc. Typically, Riesling is also lower in alcohol than the Bordeaux varietal. 

Riesling will have a deeper array of fruit flavors, while Sauvignon Blanc can have some unique, almost grassy vegetal aromas and flavors.

How To Distinguish Between Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling

It may be difficult to tell by color, so if you’re challenging yourself with blind tasting, the key is in flavor and sweetness levels. 

Riesling’s profile typically contains stone fruit flavors, such as peach, mango and apricot. It is generally going to be sweeter tasting than Sauvignon Blanc, even if it has a tart, mouth-puckering effect. You may even detect notes of honey, and in an aged Riesling, notes of petroleum or gasoline are not uncommon. 

On the other hand, Sauvignon Blanc contains flavors of citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and lemon, and green apple too. In warmer climates, it can contain tropical fruits, which can be deceiving. However, Sauvignon Blanc is more likely to have a stronger herbaceous taste, and it is generally far drier than Riesling. 

Sauvignon Blanc vs Riesling Comparison Chart

Characteristic Sauvignon Blanc Riesling
Sweetness Dry Dry to Sweet
Acidity High High
Tannins Low Low
Body Light to Medium Light
Tasting Notes Exotic and citrus fruits – peach, grapefruit, passion fruit and lemon. Grass, herbs, elderflower and green pepper.  Stone and citrus fruits – peach, apple, mango, lemon and lime. Honey, minerality and sometimes petroleum.
Popularity 60,500 40,500 Monthly Searches
Calories Per Glass 120 cal 120 cal
ABV % 12 – 14% 9 – 12%

Pairing Food With Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling

Due to their high acidity, both of these wines can be paired with some punchy, flavorsome foods. Riesling is famous for going well with Asian food, as its sweetness balances out spice. Sauvignon Blanc is excellent with seafood dishes and salads, and any similar dishes that might have a squeeze of lemon on top.

Pairing Food With Sauvignon Blanc

Pairing Food With Riesling

All About Sauvignon Blanc

All About Riesling