Pinot Grigio vs Sauvignon Blanc: What's the Difference?
Struggling to pick a white wine? You're not alone. A couple of favored selections include Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. To help you decide which one to go for, let's dive into their regions, grapes, flavor profiles, and more.
One major difference between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc lies in their origins.
Pinot Grigio Origin
This grape variety, initially believed to hail from Italy, is a mutant of Pinot Gris, which comes from the red wine grape, Pinot Noir. Its roots trace back to Burgundy, France, before reaching Switzerland in the 1300s and later Italy.1 Today, it's produced worldwide, including in California, Australia, Germany, and New Zealand. Pinot Grigio wine grapes flourish in cooler climates and on hillsides, with the temperature and aging style affecting its aromatics and acidity.
Sauvignon Blanc Origin
Originating in France during the 18th century, Sauvignon Blanc (colloquially known as Sauv Blanc) initially gained recognition in the Loire Valley before thriving in Bordeaux.2 Today, this cherished white wine is crafted around the globe, with notable producers in Chile, South Africa, Australia, and various regions in the United States.
Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc grapes differ primarily in their origins in France. Contrastingly, Pinot Grigio has its roots in Burgundy, while Sauvignon Blanc primarily hails from the Loire and Bordeaux regions. Despite their worldwide cultivation, their origins remain a key difference.
Pinot Grigio Grapes
Known for grayish-blue skins and small, oval-shaped berries, Pinot Grigio wine grapes create light-bodied, low-acid wines with floral aromas and flavors of apple, honeydew, and citrus fruits.
Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
With thicker, greener skin and smaller, rounder berries, Sauvignon Blanc grapes yield medium-bodied wines with higher acidity than Pinot Grigio. They often exhibit strong herbaceous aromas and flavors of grass, green peppers, and passionfruit.
Although both Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc enjoy widespread popularity as white wines, they exhibit unique taste characteristics, varying acidity, and differing levels of sweetness.
Pinot Grigio Flavor Profile
A wine characterized by its delicate, refreshing taste, Pinot Grigio features citrus and green apple nuances, along with a touch of floral and almond notes.3 Appreciated for its smooth texture and minimal acidity, this wine contains a slightly higher level of residual sugar compared to Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc Flavor Profile
This wine is marked by its vibrant, herbal qualities, incorporating traces of grapefruit and passionfruit.4 Exhibiting a more pronounced tang, Sauvignon Blanc owes its zest to increased acidity levels. Varieties from cooler climates tend to showcase citrus elements, whereas those from warmer climates evoke more tropical fruit fragrances.
How to Serve Pinot Grigio vs Sauvignon Blanc
Serving wine correctly is crucial for an enjoyable experience.
How to Serve Pinot Grigio
Best served chilled at around 45-48°F, Pinot Grigio's crisp acidity and freshness are emphasized when served in slightly larger white wine glasses.
How to Serve Sauvignon Blanc
Served chilled at a slightly higher temperature (50-55°F), Sauvignon Blanc's more complex flavors are enhanced when served in standard-sized glasses with wider bowls.
It's important to note the temperature differences when serving Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio to highlight their unique flavor profiles and ensure a pleasant experience.
The Best Time to Drink Them
Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are light-bodied white wines perfect for sipping year-round. However, their ideal drinking times differ.
When to Drink Pinot Grigio
Best enjoyed in spring and summer, Pinot Grigio's crisp, light-bodied nature pairs well with lighter meals, salads, and seafood.5 It complements pasta with lighter sauces, soft cheeses, and chicken, and is a fantastic choice for summer barbecues.
When to Drink Sauvignon Blanc
Ideal for autumn and winter, Sauvignon Blanc's medium-bodied, intense flavors make it suitable for pairing with creamier pastas and roasted vegetables. Its herbaceous and grassy notes also make it a great choice for holiday meals.
Regardless of the season, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc will surely enhance your meal.
The food pairing potential of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio varies significantly.
Pinot Grigio Food Pairings
Best paired with lighter fare such as salads, seafood, and poultry, Pinot Grigio's light body complements herbaceous and citrusy dishes. It's also an ideal match for white sauces like alfredo or carbonara.
Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings
This wine's more intense flavor profile makes it a better choice for bolder dishes like grilled vegetables, spicy curries, and richer seafood dishes. It can also hold its own against strong flavors in salty cheeses, pesto, and grilled meats.6
How To Pick The Perfect Wine For You
When deciding between Pinot Grigio vs Sauvignon Blanc, consider your personal preferences. If you enjoy crisp, acidic flavors, Sauvignon Blanc might be your go-to. If your palate leans towards a more gentle, sweeter flavor, Pinot Grigio is the way to go.
Another consideration is the region. Pinot Grigio comes from northeastern Italy, while Sauvignon Blanc is typically grown in France's Bordeaux or New Zealand's Marlborough.7 For something more exotic, explore other grape varieties from places like California or South America.
Lastly, consider your budget. Even though Pinot Grigio usually comes with a more affordable price tag compared to Sauvignon Blanc, you might still encounter some premium Italian Pinot Grigios with a higher cost. In the end, discovering the ideal balance between your budget and flavor preferences is a personal journey.
Create a Perfect Pairing with Exceptional Wines from Barbank
Hosting a dinner party or serving fun desserts? Choose a wine that complements your meal. With a wide variety of wines available, picking the right one can be challenging.
For instance, Edna Valley Vineyard's classic Californian-style Pinot Grigio boasts vibrant, citrusy aromas of Meyer lemon and pomelo. If you enjoy white peach and dried apple notes with hints of green plum, this is the wine for you.
If you prefer a medium-bodied wine with crisp flavors of honeydew melon and green Granny Smith apple, Gnarly Head Sauvignon Blanc is a zesty choice.
No matter your wine preference, Barbank has the best white wine for your palate.
- ABC. All About Pinot Grigio.https://www.abcfws.com/about-PinotGrigio
- WineSpeed. The History of Sauvignon Blanc.https://winespeed.com/blog/2019/05/the-history-of-sauvignon-blanc-plus-the-musque-muddle/
- MasterClass. Learn About Pinot Grigio.https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-pinot-grigio-grapes-winemaking-and-the-best-pairings
- MasterClass. Learn About Sauvignon Blanc.https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-sauvignon-blanc-grapes-wine-region-taste-and-pairings
- Paso Robles. Pinot Grigio vs Sauvignon Blanc. https://pasowine.com/pinot-grigio-vs-sauvignon-blanc
- The Wine Butler. Do You Serve Pinot Grigio Chilled? https://www.winebutler.ca/serve-pinot-grigio-chilled
- In Good Taste. Introduction to Sauvignon Blanc.https://ingoodtaste.com/blogs/wine-101/sauvignon-blanc