Every first Friday of May is World Sauvignon Blanc Day and the last Friday of the month is Chardonnay Day. We will take this opportunity of these events to remember the qualities of these famous varieties.
When in a restaurant you decide on a fish, seafood or sushi dish, your eyes are immediately drawn to the wine list and usually stop at the white wines. Among the various options, you will find the two most popular white wines worldwide. Which one do you choose, and what do you consider in your Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc decision?
Below, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two varieties for you to consider in your next choice.
Similarities between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
Both varieties are made from green or yellow grapes, and the skins are not used to make them. Both wines are also characterized by being dry wines. In addition, both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are versatile wines, which can be paired with a wide variety of foods.
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are considered international wines due to their popularity around the world and their ability to adapt to different growing regions. This great diversity of terroirs results in different styles of wine, with different flavor and aroma profiles.
Differences between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay is characterized by its smooth, silky flavor, with notes of tropical fruits, vanilla and butter. It can have flavors of apple, fig, melon, pear and peach. This grape variety is known for its ability to easily absorb oak barrel flavors and thus acquire toasty, spicy, buttery or hazelnut nuances.
Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, is a more acidic and herbaceous wine, with notes of citrus, herbs and bell pepper. It can also have mineral notes and has a typically refreshing style. It owes its fresh taste to the fact that it is not usually fermented in oak barrels, so it has no toasty or spicy notes. If it is barrel-fermented, the oak influence is not as marked as in Chardonnay.
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc growing regions
To find more sensory differences between these two wines, it is important to know that many aromas and flavors will depend on the place of cultivation, vintage and vinification.
The Burgundy and California regions are known for producing some of the best Chardonnay wines in the world, but it is also grown in other places such as Argentina, Australia, Chile and South Africa. The Chardonnay grape is hardy and adaptable to different terroirs.
Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in many parts of the world. The Marlborough Valley in New Zealand is known for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc wines. It is also grown in regions such as the Loire Valley and Bordeaux in France, California, South Africa and South America.
Not all Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are labeled with the varietal, as they usually do in the New World. Sometimes, they indicate the region of origin, such as Sancerre, from the Loire Valley, made with Sauvignon Blanc, or Chablis, from Burgundy, made with Chardonnay.
Pairing with Chardonnay wine
Chardonnay goes well with salads such as Caesar, with creamy vegetable soups, with fish such as grilled salmon. It is a good choice for oysters, lobster or sautéed or grilled squid, and is excellent with sushi.
It pairs well with lean meats and game, such as chicken, rabbit, pheasant or quail baked, grilled or in creamy sauces. It also goes well with ham and roast turkey.
It also combines with cheeses such as gruyere, edam, brie, goat or parmesan, but not with strong cheeses such as Roquefort, and goes with plain pasta with creamy cream or cheese sauces, such as spaghetti carbonara.
It is appropriate to accompany foods seasoned with white pepper, nutmeg, saffron and ginger. Not so with thyme, coriander or cinnamon.
Pairing with Sauvignon Blanc wine
As an aperitif, this Sauvignon Blanc can accompany salted anchovies, olives or fried fish.
It is ideal for salads, such as a Greek salad or a fruit salad, and for dishes with tomato and green peppers, as well as pasta with seafood sauces.
The acidity of this wine is a good contrast to creamy and fatty cheeses, such as ricotta, brie or camembert.
Ceviche is a perfect match for a good, fresh Sauvignon Blanc with good acidity.
Both are international, elegant and versatile wines, which adapt to numerous pairing options.
Chardonnay stands out as a fruitier, heavier white that absorbs oak well, compared to Sauvignon Blanc, which is much lighter-bodied, herbaceous or mineralized rather than fruity, and has a more acidic and refreshing profile.