Riesling vs Pinot Grigio: Which One is Right for You?

Riesling and pinot grigio are two of the most popular white wines. However, these delicious and smooth whites have different flavors and appeal to different people and situations.

Pinot grigio is a wonderful cooking wine that many chefs and home cooks use in meat-based or vegetable-based dishes to add a savory, citrus kick. The flavor in this wine is sharp but light. Riesling on the other hand is sweeter and less sharp. It is a wonderful dessert wine, perfect for celebrations and joyful events.

These two wines do have some similarities, such as their nearby origins. However, their different uses and contrasting flavor profiles make them significantly different overall.

What Is Riesling?

Riesling is a light wine with a moderately sweet taste depending on the region of origin. It is one of the most collectible wines, and some aged bottles can sell for high prices. Riesling can vary in color based on its ripeness, from clear-white to gold.

The Origins of Riesling

Riesling originated in Germany as early as the 9th-century. Today, riesling continues to be one of the most popular wines and commonly grown grape varieties in Germany. However, it is also mass-produced in many places now, including New York and Washington State.

The Taste of Riesling

Riesling is a fruity wine with moderately sweet undertones. It has one of the largest flavor profiles, changing based on how ripe the wine is. There are hints of apples, apricots, lime, pears, and peaches in this delicious wine, and it has a flowery aroma. An unripened wine will taste like lime or lemon, whereas a fully ripened—or rotted—riesling will taste like apricots.

The aroma of this wine is intense, no matter how cold the wine is. Common aromas include jasmine, lime, honeycomb, chamomile, and citrus. The aroma is an identifier for the level of sweetness the riesling will have. For instance, a lime-scented riesling is more tart and will have a sharper taste.

The Best Food Pairings for Riesling

The sweet and acidic riesling pairs nicely with spicy foods and dry meats such as chicken, duck, shrimp, and pork. Riesling can also complement any food with spices, such as Indian or Asian food. It also pairs well with sweet foods, meaning it can be a great dessert wine.

What Is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot grigio is a common wine used in both cooking and drinking. It has a dry and tart taste that helps bring out tangy and herbal elements in food. This white wine is acidic, with many flavorful citrus undertones. Pinot grigio is a low-carb and low-calorie wine, which is nice for wine drinkers looking to stay on the low side of calorie and carb consumption.

The Origins of Pinot Grigio

Pinot grigio is a smooth white or golden wine originally produced in Burgundy, France. It is now commonly grown in northern Italy and near the border of Germany in France.

Wondering what the difference is between pinot grigio and pinot gris? The main difference between these two is the taste. The sweeter wine, pinot gris, is from the Alsace region of France, and pinot grigio is from Italy, which has a crisper taste.

The Taste of Pinot Grigio

Pinot grigio is a light-bodied and acidic wine with a sharp and citrusy taste. Some flavors that pinot grigio resembles are honey, apple, almond, spices, and various citruses like lemon, orange, and lime. Serving this wine cold can significantly impact the flavor, making it very crisp and refreshing.

The Best Food Pairings for Pinot Grigio

Pinot grigio is a drier wine, which pairs better with meats and cheese. It is also great for cooking because of its crispness and lack of sugar. Since there is less sugar, this wine does not risk caramelizing or causing savory foods to turn sweet.

What's the Difference Between Riesling and Pinot Grigio?

Pinot grigio and riesling are two of the most popular white wines. These wines both pair well with seafood and white meats. Typically, riesling has a sweeter taste than most pinot grigio. Pinot grigio is a dry wine you can use in cooking, whereas riesling is a great dessert wine for drinking.

Which Is Better, Riesling or Pinot Grigio?

Generally, the wine you drink depends on the taste you desire and the food you are pairing with your wine. Let's take a look at a few different situations to help you decide which white to go with.

The Best Wine for Cooking

Pinot grigio is typically considered the better wine for cooking. It pairs well with poultry and seafood. According to Master Class, pinot grigio is good for cooking because it has dry and crisp elements, which help bring out spices and herbs. Unlike riesling, a dry wine like pinot grigio does not ruin savory tastes like a sweet riesling might.

Riesling is too sweet for cooking, for several reasons. The excessive sugar in riesling can caramelize if it is heated. It can also cause some foods like chicken and seafood to become too sweet. Because of this, people typically avoid cooking with riesling.

The Best Wine for Your Taste

Pinot grigio is drier than riesling, making it the best wine to pair with dinners and meats. The dryness of this wine means that it will not ruin the savory taste of most dishes.

When it comes to using riesling, the taste of your dish could become too sweet and thus ruin the savory flavor. This is especially true when it comes to meats.

On the other hand, the sweetness of riesling makes this wine pair well with desserts and other sweet, spicy, or strongly flavored dishes.

The Best Wine for Weddings

Both pinot grigio and riesling can be excellent white wines to have at a wedding. It really depends on what food you plan to serve alongside the wine, and other factors such as time of year.

Pinot grigio is an extremely versatile wine that has the sharpness to pair well with meat dishes but also has the light flavor profile to pair well with salads and other side dishes. This makes pinot grigio the best choice for summer weddings where you are serving guests lighter dishes.

Riesling is in contrast a sweet wine with a fruity flavor, which makes it a great choice for winter weddings, or when the food is heavier. If you are serving hearty foods, riesling pairs well with casseroles, darker meats, or Indian food. Riesling is also a good choice for special occasions because of its celebratory sweetness.