Most people recognize the basic types of wine: Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Chardonnay. But have you ever overheard someone (or been with someone) who ordered a glass of Viognier and wondered, “What on Earth is that?”
Viognier (pronounced VEE-ohn-yay) is the main white grape often blended with Syrah to add an exotic bouquet to the red wine. Viognier is a close cousin to Gewurztraminer and like the spicy grape is very aromatic. Although the grape is a French grape you can find Viognier wines in Virginia, California; even South America as well as in regions of France.
Interestingly, Viognier was close to extinction as a grape variety due to lack of popularity paired with less than ideal soil. It seemed this wine would soon disappear. It then staged a dramatic comeback thanks to the discovery of areas where the varietals would flourish.
It’s also important to note if a Viognier wine is made in a stainless-steel tank, peach and apricot flavors are drawn out. Oak barrels add layers of vanilla and spice.
Typically, notes of Viognier include white floral such as honey-suckle or jasmine as well as orange blossom. You’ll also find stone fruit flavors such as peach, apricot, nectarine and a nice spice component best described as baking spices. You’ll find it’s typically full bodied wine often leaving a ‘lanolin’ feel in your mouth. It’s worth noting, that Viognier is best when consumed young, meaning this particular wine does not follow the standard “aged like a fine wine”. Check the year, before popping open a bottle (younger than 18 months is the general rule). Speaking of popping a bottle, Viognier wines are best served after being decanted a bit to help release the strong aromas (meaning transferring the contents of the wine bottle into another receptacle, then let it sit for twenty minutes or so and then serve).
Food and wine pairings include chicken and fish, veal with butter or cream sauces. It also enhances fruit flavors, making it a great pairing with fruit dishes or meats served with fruit. Viognier pairs nicely with seafood (especially sushi) also. Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Thai foods pair well with a Viognier wine due to the flavors and spices in these regions. If you would like to pair with cheese, go with soft cheeses, blue, brie, and goat cheese.
Some of the best Viognier wines can be found in your own backyard! Visit Breaux Vineyards for their Governer’s Cup Silver Award Winning Viognier or Veritas Winery’s Gold Award Winning Viognier. To experience this delicious, rich wine and learn more about wine tours through our website. Choose from the packages we offer, and we will assist in the details to make your trip unforgettable!