Similarities of Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two of the most popular white wines in the world and can easily be found in both restaurants and stores that sell wine. Both originated in France and are grown in many of the same regions today, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. The grapes are also very similar in appearance: round, green-skinned, and typically grow in clusters.
This, however, is where the similarities end for these two wines. In spite of their shared origins and popularity, the two wines are actually quite different in every other way.
Differences of Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc
While both wines originated in France, they come from different regions. Chardonnay grapes hail from Burgundy (and are also used to make Champagne) whereas Sauvignon Blanc is from Bordeaux.
The process for making each of these wines is also different. Chardonnay is best known for oak barrel fermentation, which gives the wine its signature butter and vanilla characteristics and softens the acidity. Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, is fermented in stainless steel tanks which preserve the acidity.
You can find Chardonnay that has been fermented in stainless steel tanks, often referred to as ‘unoaked’, and you can also find Sauvignon Blanc created in barrels, but both of these styles are far rarer than what each wine is known for. We do however recommend giving them a try, should you have the opportunity.
Chardonnay is one of the few white wines that can improve with age. With proper storage, Chardonnay can be cellared for up to 10 years. In spite of its high acidity—one of the attributes of a wine’s age-worthiness—Sauvignon Blanc is a wine meant to be drunk young. Some wine enthusiasts insist this white can be aged for up to 7 years, but 3 years is most recommended.
How to Distinguish Between Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay is one of the easiest wines to identify due to its characteristic buttery notes, which come from the oak aging process. It is a much richer, full-bodied wine with fruity notes of apple, pear, melon, and baking spices. A glass of Chardonnay is going to have a warm golden color that deepens with oxidation.
Sauvignon Blanc is a pale yellow, very light and aromatic, but has a trademark herbaceous quality and can often have some minerality. It is known for being crisp and refreshing. You will find fruity flavors of white peach, citrus, and grapefruit, along with green notes of fresh-cut grass and even green bell pepper, as the grapes share a compound called methoxypyrazine found in green pepper.
Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc Comparison Chart
|Body||Full||Light to Medium|
|Tasting Notes||Yellow apple, pineapple, vanilla, butter||White peach, citrus, grapefruit, herbs|
|Popularity||74,000 Monthly Searches||60,500 Monthly Searches|
|Calories Per Glass||123||119|
|ABV %||13.5 – 14.5||13.5 – 14.5|
Pairing Food with Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc
Both wines pair well with a wide variety of foods, but in much different ways.
Sauvignon Blanc, with its high, crisp acidity is great for cleansing the palate. It pairs well with spicy dishes, as well as seafood, poultry, salads, and fresh vegetables or herbs. It is not a good match with rich, creamy dishes.
Chardonnay, on the other hand, is great with rich, creamy, buttery dishes, breads, and pasta. Take care with the pasta though as Chardonnay does not pair well with tomato, olives, and other acidic foods. It can also bring out the flavor in roasted meats like chicken, turkey, or pork, and will provide great balance to meatier fish, such as salmon or swordfish.