White wine is known for its elegance and clean taste, and flavor. However, with so many varieties available, it’s often common to need clarification between them. Wondering, “Which one is which,” especially as a beginner wine taster, shouldn’t be embarrassing.
Amidst all the different types of white wines available in the market, two that stand out are Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. These two are accessible, quite affordable, and have very distinct flavors, making it easier to compare them.
This article will explore the differences between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc and how to differentiate them.
Origins And Regions
Before we dive deeper into exploring the differences between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, we first need to understand the basics.
What started as French white wine is now one of the area’s most commonly brewed Italian wines. It is brewed in the staple Italian style across different regions worldwide.
This is one of the primary reasons Pinot Grigio is the standard name instead of Pinot Gris, which was initially called in French. The brewing style used in the Italian style differs greatly from the French style of Pinot Grigio.
But, the commonality between the two is that they use the same type of white wine grapes. Not just Italy, the Italian type of white wine is also brewed in Austria and the United States. The level of sweetness in the wine depends on the winemaking process.
This particular white wine originated from the Bordeaux region found in France. What’s unique about this white wine is its highly acidic and herbaceous nature.
But, the uniqueness of this type of white wine is that the taste differs based on where the grapes are growing. Also, it depends on the fermentation process. As for the flavor profile, the white wine has a fruity and herb-like taste, especially with green apples, gooseberry, bell peppers, etc.
This particular flavor blend might seem very complicated, but it is a fairly good wine once you get used to the taste and flavor profile. Most of the grapes used for Sauvignon Blanc grow in France, Australia, California, and some parts of New Zealand.
Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc differ mainly from the different types of grapes grown in varying areas. Let us go through them in detail:
The Pinot Grigio grape is a white grape variety closely related to the Pinot Noir grape.
The grapes are typically small to medium-sized, round or oval.
The grape’s skins are typically grayish-blue or grayish-purple, which gives the grape its name, as “grigio” means gray in Italian.
The grape clusters are usually compact and cylindrical.
Flavor Profile And Aroma:
Coming to the flavor profile, Pinot Grigio has a blend of light, crisp, and refreshing tastes and characters.
The citrus flavor blend includes distinct flavors of lemon, grapefruit, and lime, which imparts a zesty acidity to the white wine.
Besides that, the white wine also has distinct fruity flavors of melon peach, green apple, pear, etc. But, the white is quite dry with a higher level of sweetness.
If you want a white wine with low alcohol content, this one is a pretty good option. The subtle floral flavors of white flowers and jasmine are quite great too.
When it comes to the physical characteristics of the grapes that are used for Sauvignon Blanc are the green-skinned grape variety, typically smaller in size.
These grapes also grow in tight clusters and are quite sweeter.
The grape skins are thin and delicate, ranging from pale green to golden yellow when fully ripe.
Flavor Profile And Aroma:
What sets Sauvignon Wine apart is its distinct aroma and vibrant and refreshing flavor profile. Also, the white wine has a zesty acidity with a crisp flavor profile.
When comparing this white wine with fruity flavors, we can compare it with lemon, lime, and a blend of tropical fruits. So, no wonder people need clarification on Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
This white wine’s sweetness level differs, preferably from dry to slightly off-dry. The hint of minerality in this type of white win is also often an acquired taste.
It’s worth noting that the flavor profiles and aromas of wines can vary depending on various factors, including the winemaking techniques used and the specific terroir (environmental factors) in which the grapes are grown.
Wine Production And Styles
The next point of comparison is the wine production process and the style of white wines that are available in the market.
Let us go through them one by one:
There are two primary styles of wine production when it comes to Pinot Grigio – Italian and Alsatian. While the Italian style Pinot grigio involves an early harvest grape variant, the Alsatian Pinot grigio is different and involves a later harvest type of grapes.
As for the brewing and fermentation process, Pinot Grigio is fermented in stainless-steel barrels/tanks. This imparts a specific type of crispness to the wine, which is typical of this type of wine.
Compared to the Italian Pinot Grigio, the Alsatian Pinot Grigio has a richer taste, with a higher acidity than everyone’s cup of tea.
The second thing that we have to talk about is Sauvignon Blanc. This, too, ferments in the stainless-steel tanks, but there is a distinct fermentation process that preserves the acidity in the wine.
Since this type of white wine is typically brewed in France, the grapes used in manufacturing this type of wine have a stronger grape skin, which imparts higher acidity and flavor profile.
The kind of Sauvignon Blanc manufactured in the United States is aged longer because the skins are removed from the grapes before fermentation. Also, this is a type of sweet wine, which means that the residual sugar in the wine is comparably higher.
Both of these wines pair well with different types of appetizers and entrees. However, breaking down the food pairings as a new wine taster can be complicated. So, let us break down the basics.
Pinot Grigio’s crisp acidity and light, refreshing character make it a versatile wine that pairs well with various dishes.
You can try this with the following:
Seafood Items – Grilled shrimp, Oysters, Sole, or Trout.
Salads – Fresh green salads with vinaigrettes and ingredients like goat cheese or citrus fruits are also great choices.
Pasta – Pairs well with lighter pasta dishes like primavera or pasta with light cream or seafood-based sauces.
Poultry Dishes – Pairs well with roasted chicken or turkey breast.
Vegetarian Dishes – Pair well with stir-fries, grilled vegetables, or vegetable-based risotto.
Sauvignon Blanc’s bright acidity and vibrant flavors make it a versatile wine that pairs well with various dishes.
Cheese – Pairs well with goat cheese and a fresh, crisp salad and vinaigrette combination.
Lighter Dishes – Pairs well with pesto pasta, grilled asparagus with lemon, or dishes seasoned with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, or mint.
Poultry Dishes – Pairs well with grilled chicken and turkey.
Remember, personal preferences and regional variations can influence wine pairings, so it’s always a good idea to experiment and find what works best for your palate.
Price Range And Availability
One of the most important points of comparison between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc comes in terms of the price point and availability of the wine.
Several factors affect the affordability and accessibility of each of these wine variants, so let us break them down in detail:
This is a very common type of white wine available in local wine and liquor shops without any hassle. However, when it comes to the price point, that can vary depending on the type, age, and also the shop you are buying it from.
The price range generally varies between $10-$20 for the affordable kind and $50 and above for the more expensive bottles.
Some of the factors influencing the price of the wine include:
Region of production of the grapes
Aging process and duration
Now, regarding Sauvignon Blanc, this is a type of fancier white wine, so there are chances that the price point will be slightly higher. The entry-level bottles can start from $30-$40, but the more aged variations are a lot more expensive, so you’d have to be aware of that.
The premium and single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc wines brewed around Marlborough in New Zealand or Sancerre in France have a higher price point.
Some of the factors influencing the price are:
Region of production
Brand of the wine
Production quality and winemaking process
Aging potential of the wine
It’s important to note that these price ranges are general estimates and can vary depending on the specific bottle, vintage, and market conditions.
That concludes everything you need to know about Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc and their differences. They are both white wines, similar and different in certain ways. If you are new to drinking white wine and don’t understand these individual wines, we’d recommend referring to this article for all your doubts.