Despite being an exotic tropical fruit bomb, Viognier really isn’t a white wine you hear a lot about. It’s a wine that needs a lot of attention as it ripens slowly, and doesn’t make for a very predictable crop. When made well, however, it stands as one of the best wines to go with food, or to enjoy on its own.
Viognier is dynamite with a variety of foods as it has the creamy, and round texture of a well-made Chardonnay (without all the oak), plus the balanced acidity we’ve come to expect from a great Sauvignon Blanc. On top of that, it has the aromatics and flavour profile of both a Riesling, and a Chardonnay.
Since it is similar to a Chardonnay in its creamy body, you want to pair it with foods with a rich texture, particularly seafood dishes like lobster, crab, and muscles. Keep it far away from really fishy dishes, such as sardines, anchovies, and mackerel.
Viognier and Ethic Food
Being such an exotic wine, it naturally pairs well with exotic (to North America at least) foods, especially curried dishes. Thai, Indian, Malaysian and even Caribbean curried dishes are excellent with this wine. It won’t go overly well with hot dishes, Viognier tends to be higher in alcohol than most white wines which will increase the heat of the dish to a highly unpleasant burning sensation.
Viognier’s tropical fruit flavours shine when paired with fruit dishes, such as a tangy fruity barbecue sauce, mango chutney, plum sauce, or pineapple salsa. You want to stay away from sharper acidic sauces, such as raspberry vinaigrette.
Best Wine for the Holidays
Viognier is fantastic with Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter Fare. Turkey, ham and duck all have a sweetness to them that this wine loves. Slow cooked root vegetables, like turnips, carrots and squash, along with sweet potatoes have the same sweetness which bring out this wine’s flavours.
This is also a great wine to have on its own with a few appetizers. Salty and fatty snacks such as Cashews, beer nuts, and Macadamia nuts will keep you happy with this wine. Chicken Satay, and cured meats are great as well.
What Not To Pair
Since Viognier is such a bold wine, it won’t go very well with lighter fare as it will overpower the food.
Viognier is also terrible with tart foods, such as herbs, olives, capers and green vegetables. You really would not want to pair this with a vinaigrette based salad.
Finally, avoid dishes that are heavily grilled or blackened. Again these foods come off as sharp and steal away a lot from the wine’s charm.
Notable Producers of Viognier
California: R.H. Phillips, Arrowood, Hogue, Pride Mountain
France: Chapoutier, Paul Jaboulet, Georges Duboeuf