Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet?
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular white wines in the world. It’s a traditional wine from the Loire Valley and is perfect during the summertime with those French and Mediterranean seafood dishes.
But the flavors and sweetness levels of Sauvignon Blanc often stump wine lovers, as its taste can be deceptive depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made.
Keep reading to find the secret to Sauvignon Blanc’s sweetness.
What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
Sauvignon Blanc is one of those wines that expresses its terroir, meaning that the soil and climate in which it’s grown affect the taste. Typically Sauvignon Blanc is a medium-bodied dry white wine with high acidity and a medium alcohol content of around 13%. It’s often confused with Pinot Grigio, though Pinot is slightly sweeter and less acidic than Sauvignon Blanc. To fully understand the complexity behind Sauvignon Blanc’s versatile taste, we need to divide things up by growing region.
This refreshingly crisp white wine contains a chemical called “pyrazine,” which gives it those grassy, green vegetable flavors and herbaceous notes. When grown in cooler climates or picked early, this wine will taste more like a tart vegetable garden. New Zealand is most famous for producing this fresh, pucker-inducing type of Sauvignon Blanc.
You can expect those sweeter stone fruit and tropical fruit flavors when grown in warmer climates or ripened late. This is where grapefruit, white peach, passion fruit, lime, and guava come in. If you’re planning a vacation to Australia anytime soon, indulge in the sweet, ripened fruit flavors of the country’s Sauvignon Blanc.
Califonia is the leading producer of Sauvignon Blanc in the United States, with a few plantings having been found in Washington and Ohio. Fumé Blanc refers to a type of Sauvignon produced in Napa Valley and is similar to the smokier Sauvignon Blanc variations found in the Loire Valley. We don’t know about you, but sipping a smoky wine on a cloudy day sounds absolutely cozy and refreshing.
The difference between Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux is night and day, so not all Blanc produced in France tastes the same! In the Loire Valley, the flint soils add a smoky, flinty, mineral taste to the wine. Along the river, gravel contributes to Sauvignon Blanc’s floral and spicy flavors in this area. In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc tastes fruitier with more citrus notes.
If we’re talking sugar, Bordeaux takes the cake as Sauvignon Blanc is one of the main ingredients of this area’s famous dessert wine, Sauternes. Combined with Muscadelle and Semillon grapes, Sauvignon Blanc becomes seriously sweet, especially since the wine grapes are exposed to noble rot on the vine, a fungus that naturally amps up the sugars.
Sauternes contains about 120-220 grams of sugar per liter!
But before we get too carried away, let's look into the production of Sauvignon Blanc Wine for more insight.
How is Sauvignon Blanc Made?
When talking about sugar and sweetness levels with any wine, we need to look at its roots.
Sauvignon Blanc is traditionally fermented in stainless steel tanks and fully fermented, meaning the wine yeast eats up just about all the residual sugar. In New Zealand, winemakers often stop the fermentation process early to take the edge off the acidity, leaving a little more residual sugar behind. The stainless steel tanks help to preserve the wine’s crisp, fruity, grassy, and floral flavors, whereas oak barrels soften those green notes and acidity. Some winemakers in France opt for oak barrels today.
Another thing to consider when calming the sharper aspects of Sauvignon Blanc is how long the thin green skins should be in contact with the juice (grape must). When left in contact for longer, the grapes add an intense flavor to the wine.
Temperature also matters as Sauvignon Blanc fermented in warmer temperatures will taste more minerally, whereas Sauvignon Blanc left in cooler temperatures will taste more tropical.
Sweet or dry, all of these aspects contribute to Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor profile.
Now let’s get down to the main question on everyone’s mind.
Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet or Dry?
Move over, Chardonnay. You’re not the driest white wine out there. While Chardonnay is fuller and more buttery with almost equally high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is leaner and contains even less sugar. With just 4 grams of sugar per bottle on average, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the dry wines. But with all those fruity and floral notes depending on where it’s grown, Sauvignon Blanc can easily disguise how little sugar it has.
Keep reading to find out how best to pair this versatile wine.
Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings
With crisp textures and zingy acidity on the palate, Sauvignon Blanc shines when paired with seafood dishes. More herbal types will taste incredible with sauces like pesto as well as chicken and salad. The acidity also makes it a decadent companion for heavy cheeses like blue cheese and goat cheese as well as spicy cuisines like Mexican, Greek, and Thai.
Sauvignon Blanc is the ultimate fat and spice neutralizer.
Final Verdict on Sauvignon Blanc's Sweetness
So is Sauvignon Blanc dry or sweet? While there are sweet variations like Sauternes, this wine doesn’t really belong in the sweet wine category.
Its lower residual sugar content makes it a dry wine, even though some Sauvignon Blancs taste sweeter due to more fruit-forward and floral flavors.
You’ll find these fruitier variations in Australia and Bordeaux, while the drier, smoky, and more herbaceous variations can be found in the Loire Valley, New Zealand, and California.
But don’t take out word for it. Try our selection of Sauvignon Blanc and see which variation is right for you.