Pinot Grigio vs Sauvignon Blanc
Don’t you just love white wines that are crisp, light, and refreshing? We do!
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio exceed expectations when it comes to a rejuvenating glass of wine. With a gentle, sweet taste and a rush of acidity, these wines are bright, subtle, and smooth.
A classic addition to garden parties or big summer celebrations, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are sometimes mistaken for each other.
While these two varietals might appear the same, they couldn’t be more different in taste and aroma.
Let’s explore the similarities and differences between these fresh and popular white wines.
Sauvignon Blanc vs. Pinot Grigio
The main difference between these two wines is acidity. Sauvignon Blanc has a much higher acidity level, lending to its more biting, crisp taste. Pinot Grigio is more neutral and lighter, with notes of citrus, stone fruit, and floral aromas.
Sauvignon Blanc also contains a unique compound known as pyrazine, which lends to its fresh-cut grass taste.
Considering aromas, Pinot Grigio is neutral to the nose, while Sauvignon Blanc carries bolder aromas that seem to jump out of the glass.
Now that we’ve covered the basic differences let’s explore each wine style's various flavors and aromas.
What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
Sauvignon Blanc’s tasting notes vary dramatically depending on the area and climate it's grown in. It thrives in cool to moderate temperatures, which helps its herbaceous aromas fully develop.
Primary flavor notes for this wine include white peach, passion fruit, lime, and green apple.
Sauvignon Blanc wine grapes can range from perfumey and floral peach aromas to more densely tropical notes, crisp citrus and mineral flavors, and tart herb notes.
Fun Fact: Sauvignon Blanc first originated in Bordeaux.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Loire Valley are light-bodied and grassy, while those produced in Bordeaux are heavier with tropical fruit flavors due to the warmer climate.
New Zealand is famous for Sauvignon Blanc with high acidity, along with gooseberry and bell pepper flavors. Winemakers craft the wine using steel barrels, making it brighter and crisper than other variations grown elsewhere.
Now that we’ve covered Sauvignon Blanc, what does Pinot Grigio taste like?
What Does Pinot Grigio Taste Like?
Pinot Grigio is a light to medium-bodied, dry white wine that will appeal to those who like a bit of sweetness in their wine and those who don’t.
Its primary notes include lemon, lime, pear, and honeysuckle, with a smooth mineral aftertaste.
Italian Pinot Grigio specifically contains pronounced notes of bitter almond.
When comparing Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris, most refer to them as the same wine. While this is technically true, as they’re from the same grape variety, the difference lies in how they’re made.
Pinot Grigio is an Italian style of wine that’s light and crisp with citrus aromas.
In contrast, Pinot Gris is a sweeter wine with spicy tropical fruit aromas and higher alcohol levels. It is a French style of wine that comes from Alsace.
Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings
Since these wines are similar in lightness, they’ll pair well with light dishes and cream sauces.
You can serve each of these with chicken salad and seafood.
Pinot Grigio is practically made for pairing with raw fish and sushi.
Since Sauvignon Blanc is bolder and has more acidity, it will complement spicier dishes like those found in Mexican and Thai cuisine.
It will also taste decadent with heavier cream dishes, like buttery lobster bisque.
Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet?
Despite its bold aromas, Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine with little to no residual sugars.
More herbaceous grass-like blends of this wine might taste tart and bitter, especially with its higher acidity, but it is not sweet.
It’s easy to see how this white wine could be mistaken for sweet, especially when it's aged in oak, resulting in more complex, tropical fruit flavors.
Alcohol levels also trick the palette into thinking this wine is sweet, as the higher alcohol content is often associated with higher sweetness levels.
Sauvignon Blanc contains between 11-14% alcohol per volume.
How does Pinot Grigio’s sweetness compare to Sauvignon Blanc? Let’s take a look.
Is Pinot Grigio Sweet?
Pinot Grigio is neutral and mellow, with lighter perfume aromas and a smooth mineral aftertaste.
Its alcohol levels range from 10-14% alcohol per volume, and it doesn’t taste as sharp as Sauvignon Blanc since it has much less acidity.
It can sometimes have more concentrated citrus notes, but Pinot Grigio is not a sweet wine.
Like Sauvignon Blanc, it’s dry and contains no residual sugars.
White Wine Face Off
If you love crisp white wines as much as we do, you must know the differences between these two classic white wines. While there are some similarities, other elements make them almost total opposites.
Sauvignon Blanc has higher acidity and more potent aromas that keep the senses on high alert. It also contains the unique compound pyrazine, which gives it its grassy notes.
Pinot Grigio can also be perfumey, though it is less aromatic and more mellow in acidity, with lighter citrus notes.
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