Riesling Vs Pinot Grigio (Quick Guide)

    Riesling vs Pinot Grigio

    When walking down the wine aisle or perusing the wine list at a restaurant chances are you’ll spot both a Riesling and a Pinot Grigio.

    But why should you pick one over the other?

    What makes Riesling different from Pinot Grigio?

    Let’s take a look at the main difference between Riesling and Pinot Grigio wines.

    Riesling vs Pinot Grigio: 7 Main Differences

    When they’re both white wines, telling the difference between a Riesling and a Pinot Grigio may seem impossible at first.

    So let's break the grapes down into more manageable categories:


    First things first, where do Riesling and Pinot Grigio come from?

    Research has traced the Riesling grape back to the Rhine river Region of Germany, as well as nearby Alsace in France. 

    Pinot Grigio is often mistaken for an Italian variety but is actually French in origin, coming from the Burgundy region of France where it is known as Pinot Gris.

    These two different countries of origins will already start to dictate some differences between the two wines in style and flavour.

    But what about the characteristics of Riesling and Pinot Grigio grapes?

    Grape Characteristics

    Riesling and Pinot Grigio are both white wine grapes but there’s more to them than just the colour of their skins.

    Riesling makes for a very sturdy grape which grows in small, compact bunches making them excellent grapes for sweet wine production.

    Riesling grapes can express terroir exceptionally well, making them great grapes for blind tasting.

    Pinot Grigio, however, is slightly rosier in appearance with the grapes having an almost grey to rose gold sheen to them.

    The colour of their skins can affect the colour of the wine, so how do Riesling and Pinot Grigio differentiate in appearance?


    Riesling tends to make a very pale, white wine often described as golden or straw like. As Riesling ages it will become richer and darker gold in colour.

    Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, will make very pale white wines and is often drunk young so will not become golden over time.

    However, because Pinot Grigio grapes have a lovely rosy tint to them sometimes Pinot Grigio wines can become almost rose gold in colour too.

    So how should you serve a Riesling and a Pinot Grigio wine?


    Riesling and Pinot Grigio wines both like to be served cold, they are both white wines, after all.

    Pinot Grigio makes for a very crisp and very dry white wine and the best temperature to serve Pinot Grigio is between 6-8°C (42-47°F).

    Because of its rich aromatics, Riesling can handle a slightly warmer temperature and the best temperature to serve Riesling is between 45–49°F or 6-9°C.

    So how do the serving temperatures of Riesling and Pinot Grigio affect their tasting notes?

    Tasting Notes

    Typical tasting notes associated with the Riesling grape include lime zest, juicy nectarines and even the smell of petrol.

    When Pinot Grigio is made in the Italian style it makes a dry white wine with lots of zesty aromas and notes of green apple and pear drops.

    Think cloudy lemonade, segments of juicy nectarine and apple blossom.

    Riesling tends to be more perfumed than Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio tends to be a more consistently dry style of wine in comparison to Riesling.

    So what are the best food pairings for Riesling and Pinot Grigio?

    Related Guide: Taste of Pinot Grigio Guide

    Food Pairings

    What grows together goes together and as a result Pinot Grigio is a perfect match for lots of Italian dishes such as creamy risottos and lemony pasta meals. 

    Riesling is a wonderful food wine and can go well with all manner of dishes.

    Bring a Riesling to your next picnic or barbeque when there’s lots of different flavours on the table and let the wine speak for itself.

    So how do the characteristics of Riesling and Pinot Grigio affect their price?


    Whilst both grapes make exceptional wines there are more expensive Rieslings out there in comparison to Pinot Grigio.

    Because Riesling tends to age for longer than Pinot Grigio this tends to add to its overall value.

    But does that mean that Riesling is a better wine than Pinot Grigio?

    Which Is Better: Riesling Or Pinot Grigio?

    Riesling and Pinot Grigio both make very distinctively delicious white wines so the only person who can decide once and for all whether Riesling or Pinot Grigio is the better wine is your taste buds!

    You may prefer a Pinot Grigio if you’re after something crisp, citrusy and refreshing or you may opt for a Riesling if you want a more opulent and perfumed style of wine.

    The choice is yours!


    So there we have it, everything you need to know about what differentiates a Riesling wine from a Pinot Grigio.

    Why not grab a bottle of both for your next gathering and see which one your friends prefer?

    And wow them with your new found wine knowledge in the process! 

    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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