Which is drier Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling?

Answered by Christopher Steppe

When it comes to comparing the dryness of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, we need to consider a few key factors. These include the grape variety itself, the impact of climate on the flavor profile, and the overall taste characteristics of each .

Starting with the grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are quite different. Sauvignon Blanc is known for its crisp acidity and vibrant flavors, often featuring notes of grapefruit, lime, and green herbs. On the other hand, Riesling is typically associated with a sweeter taste profile, although it can also be made in a dry style. Riesling can have a range of flavors, from floral and fruity to mineral and petrol notes.

The climate in which the grapes are grown also plays a significant role in the flavor development of both wines. Sauvignon Blanc thrives in cooler climates, such as the Loire Valley in France or Marlborough in New Zealand. These cooler regions help to retain the natural acidity of the grape and produce wines with a refreshing, crisp character. Riesling, on the other hand, can be grown in both cool and warm climates. In cooler regions like Germany, Riesling tends to be higher in acidity and can have a sweeter taste profile. In warmer regions like Australia, Riesling can be made in a drier style with lower levels of residual sugar.

It's important to note that the terms “dry” and “sweet” refer to the amount of residual sugar in the wine. A dry wine has little to no residual sugar, while a sweet wine has a higher sugar content. In general, Riesling wines tend to have a higher level of residual sugar compared to Sauvignon Blanc. However, it is worth mentioning that both wines can be made in a range of sweetness levels, from bone dry to lusciously sweet.

In my personal experience as a sommelier, I have encountered a wide variety of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling wines, each with its own unique dryness level. I have tasted bone-dry Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley that were incredibly crisp and refreshing, as well as off-dry Rieslings from Germany with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. It is important to explore different producers and regions to truly understand the range of dryness levels in both wines.

To summarize, while both Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling can be made in dry styles, Riesling tends to have a higher level of residual sugar on average. However, it is essential to explore different regions and producers to discover the full spectrum of dryness in both wines. Ultimately, personal preference plays a significant role in determining which wine is perceived as drier.