Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay

Published January 27th, 2023

Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are white grape varieties originating from Burgundy, whose wines are among the most popular and sold in the world.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay.

These are wines that can have different characteristics, as they range from easy-drinking young whites to more complex and structured ones. Pinot Grigio can also be produced as an off-dry or sweet wine.

Normally two main styles are distinguished. For Pinot Grigio, there is the Italian style, which is fresher and lighter, and the French style (often indicated by the French term Pinot Gris), which is more aromatic and complex. For Chardonnay, we normally speak of oaked or unoaked wine, with hints of vanilla, toasting, and sweet spices in the first case or fresher fruity aromas in the second.

To understand what is the difference between Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and which wine best suits your taste, today we are going to break down the comparison between Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay

When it comes to the point of understanding what is the difference between pinot grigio and chardonnay, it is essential to evaluate their characteristics and consider how they behave in different parts of the world.


Despite common beliefs, the Pinot Grigio Chardonnay duo shows several similarities. Both hail from Burgundy and both produce wines that are extremely popular even with wine newbies.

Their popularity also depends on the fact that, as they easily adapt to different soil and climatic conditions, they are practically cultivated all over the world with excellent results. Furthermore, both produce wines of very different styles, from extremely simple and easy to approach to wines of great class, garnering much acclaim.

Both are ideal wines as aperitifs, but they adapt very well to food.

Difference between Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio

The Pinot Grigio versus Chardonnay comparison would not be complete if the differences between the two were not taken into consideration.

Chardonnay certainly has greater aging capacities and is generally more expensive, especially when considering the extraordinary wines from Burgundy.

In the Italian style, Pinot Grigio is a lighter and less substantial wine than Chardonnay, but in general, Pinot Grigio compared to Chardonnay is less full-bodied.

Finally, in terms of residual sugars, the comparison of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay dryness shows a greater tendency for the former to produce sweet and off-dry wines.

Comparison chart Chardonnay versus Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio Chardonnay
Tasting notes Rich and pungent, with good structure and fruity and floral aromas. Robust and complex character. Aromas of ripe and tropical fruit, buttery and toasted notes. Lively acidity and good body.
Sweetness Dry to sweet Dry
Body Light to medium Medium
Acidity Medium Medium
Alcohol Medium Medium to high
Age worthiness 2 to 15 years 5 to 25 years
Cost $8 to $100 $8 to $800
Food pairing hearty fish dishes, white meats and salami, Carbonara pasta, Pad Thai. fish, molluscs and crustaceans, poultry and light vegetable-based first courses, pork.
Serving temperature 8-12°C / 46-54°F 8-12°C / 46-54°F
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Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay taste and flavor

Pinot Grigio

The character of Pinot Grigio strongly depends on the place and style in which it is produced. In particular, two styles of Pinot Grigio are distinguished. The Italian Pinot Grigio style is a fresh and light wine, while the French style corresponds to more full-bodied and complex wines.

But in general, its aromatic, ethereal, and delicate scent refers to the characteristics of the lands of origin and perfectly reflects the soft and velvety taste with notes of flowers and fruit and a pleasant balsamic aftertaste.


Chardonnay is a very ductile wine and the terroir of origin, as well as the stylistic choices of the winemaker, can change its character.

When not aged in wood, the bouquet reveals delicate and fruity notes of peach, apple, pear, citrus, caramel, pineapple, and banana, as well as notes of dried fruit, vanilla, and butter. Depending on the soil or origin, certain wines may also show a marked minerality. In case it is aged in wood, more complex spicy notes are also evident.

On the palate, it has a robust and complex character with balanced acidity, a certain roundness and a lingering aftertaste.

Origin and history

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is a noble vine that was born centuries ago in the French region of Burgundy from a rib of Pinot Noir. It is a gray-blue grape variety generated by a natural mutation.


Unanimously considered as originating from Burgundy, according to some scholars Chardonnay actually comes from the Middle East. It was certainly planted in Burgundy by the Cistercian monks of the Pontigny abbey.

Where are they produced and in which styles?

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio was born in the French region of Burgundy, but its production has however gradually spread internationally, so much so that it is also cultivated in the New World (in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA).

Today Italy holds the record for the largest number of hectares planted with this variety, which has found an ideal habitat in Friuli Venezia Giulia, where it represents 25% of regional production, in Alto Adige, Lombardy, and Veneto. Italian Pinot Grigio is generally a delicate white wine with citrus and fresh fruit aromas and lively acidity.

This grape is also widely grown in the Alsace wine region of France where it is called Pinot Gris (French translation of Pinot Grigio), and where it produces richer and more complex wines in dry, off-dry, and sweet styles.


The most prestigious wine-growing area for the production of Chardonnay is Burgundy, especially the Côte de Beaune where some of the best French Chardonnays come from. These are complex, elegant, and well-structured wines. Another territory particularly suited to the production of Chardonnay is Chablis, a small region in northern Burgundy. Here, the colder climates and calcareous soils rich in fossils give Chardonnay an unmistakable mineral sapidity.

In the United States, the most famous Chardonnays are produced in California (Napa Valley and Sonoma County) where this grape benefits from wide temperature ranges and an arid continental climate. The use of high-toasted first-passage barriques means that Californian Chardonnays generally take on decisive nuances of toasted almonds, vanilla, and a soft and round mouthfeel.

Chardonnay is also cultivated with great results in Canada (in particular in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina.

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio which is sweeter or dryer

When looking at Pinot Grigio vs chardonnay sweetness, it’s essential to compare only dry wines, as Pinot Grigio is sometimes vinified as off-dry or sweet. The dry versions of these two wines show similar residual sugars.

Alcohol content comparison

The comparison of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay alcohol content reveals little difference. As a general rule, alcohol levels are similar, but often, Chardonnay compared to Pinot Grigio tends to be slightly more alcoholic.

Food pairing

If you are wondering which is better Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay in terms of food pairings, the answer lies in what you are actually serving! Both wines are extremely food friendly, but it is fair to say that Chardonnay wine vs Pinot Grigio probably shows a wider versatility.

Pinot Grigio

Depending on the winemaking style, Pinot Grigio offers a wide range of pairing possibilities. It pairs well with appetizers, fish dishes, and white meats.

Alsatian wines characterized by a more important residual sugar and a more intense aromatic character go very well with Asian cuisine that is not too spicy and with blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola.

The more complex and full-bodied versions vinified with skin maceration (Orange Wines) are suitable for accompanying risottos or white meat dishes in complex and spicy recipes.


Thanks to its excellent acid vein and its good structure, Chardonnay goes deliciously with dishes with a good fat component such as salmon and fries.

The younger and unoaked wines pair deliciously with dishes with a sweet tendency such as shellfish, with white fish or sushi.

The more complex versions are perfect with rich pasta dishes like tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms or pasta carbonara. Also excellent with white meats, chicken, or roast turkey, and in the case of full-bodied wines with pork, especially if served with an apple sauce.

Wines to try under $50

As usual, in this section, we like to suggest you some labels, to have a clear idea of these two wines and better understand which is better Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio from your personal experience.

Jermann Pinot Grigio, Italy.

Pinot Grigio

  • Jermann Pinot Grigio, Italy

  • Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capucins Pinot Gris, France

  • Cave de Ribeauville Pinot Gris Gloeckelberg Grand Cru, France

  • Loveblock Pinot Gris, New Zealand

  • Di Bruno Pinot Grigio, USA

Joseph Drouhin St. Veran, France.


  • Joseph Drouhin St. Veran, France

  • Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Blanc, France

  • Mills Reef Elspeth Chardonnay, New Zealand

  • Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay, Australia

  • Felsina I Sistri Chardonnay, Italy