Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay

Published February 4th, 2023

The Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay comparison is one of the most interesting in the world of wine and most investigated among people approaching this subject.

Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay.

Both these two white vines are among the most appreciated and widespread in the world, and some of the best-known and most sought-after white wines are made from them.

But what’s the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc?

What makes them so popular?

And which is better Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc?

If the answer to the last question will be completely personal, in this article, we will try to give you the tools to understand the characteristics of these two wines and shed a light on their differences.

Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay share great popularity among wine lovers, but they have two very different personalities. To better understand the Sauv Blanc vs Chardonnay comparison, we will analyze their characteristics and common traits.


As anticipated, the similarities between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are very few.

It is easy to understand that both vines are white and of French origin, and both have spread widely throughout the world to produce wines in different styles depending on the soil and climatic characteristics.

Both wines are very popular among consumers and come in a wide price range from affordable to extremely expensive wines.

Difference between Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay

One of the most frequently asked questions among people approaching the world of wine is: what’s the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay?

There is not just one answer to this question because these two wines have very little in common.

First off, Chardonnay is primarily made in two styles: oaked and unoaked. Unoaked wines are fresh, fruity, and mineral, while the others show greater creaminess on the palate and buttery or toasty notes on the nose. Sauvignon instead, with some exceptions, is a wine mainly vinified in steel precisely to preserve the high aromaticity and freshness that are its fundamental characteristics.

Chardonnay tends to produce rounder and more structured wines that go well with more complex and rich dishes. Sauvignon has a more marked acid vein and herbaceous aromas which make it ideal with vegetarian dishes or lighter preparations.

Comparison chart between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay
Tasting notes Crisp, lean and mineral with high acidity and citrusy and greenish flavors. Robust and complex character. Aromas of ripe and tropical fruit, buttery and toasted notes. Lively acidity and good body.
Sweetness Dry Dry
Body Light to medium Medium
Acidity High Medium
Alcohol Medium Medium to high
Age worthiness 2 to 5 years 5 to 25 years
Cost $7 to $150 $8 to $800
Food pairing vegetarian and herb-driven recipes, pesto, fish, goat cheese, spicy food fish, molluscs and crustaceans, poultry and light vegetable-based first courses, pork.
Serving temperature 7-12°C / 45–54°F 8-12°C / 46-54° F
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Taste and flavor

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is easily recognizable by the intense vegetable aromas of tomato leaf, cut grass, and capers which are accompanied by a symphony of fresh fruit aromas such as lime, mandarin, green apple, banana, and grapefruit. In cold climates, however, this grape develops tropical notes of passion fruit, papaya, melon and even lychee.

Sauvignon Blanc is a wine with good minerality and freshness. The young wines vinified in steel are characterized by green notes of aromatic herbs, citrus fruits, and a slim body. Those aged in wood develop roundness and a even certain fatness, with ripe aromas such as caramelized citrus peel, dried fruit, and figs.


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

Sauvignon Blanc

Originally from the Loire Valley, in particular the area around Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire, Sauvignon Blanc most probably comes from the Savagnin grape. It takes its name from the French term "sauvage", which means "wild", due to its leaves that resemble wild vine.


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?

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc originally comes from the Loire Valley which remains its natural habitat today, especially near Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire. Here the Sauvignon Blanc is vinified in purity and aged in cement or steel tanks. The resulting wines are endowed with extraordinary minerality and elegance and are capable of aging beautifully for many years.

Another historic area for Sauvignon is Bordeaux, where it is vinified in blend with Semillon, to produce both dry and sweet wines such as Sauternes and Monbazillac. The sweet Sauvignon has very different characteristics; it is matured in oak and acquires complexity and thickness, creating extremely expensive and long-lived wines.

In New Zealand, where Sauvignon has found ideal conditions, especially the Marlborough area, the wines are characterized by a marked citrus freshness and an inebriating tropical richness.


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.

Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay which is sweeter

When looking at Chardonnay vs Sauvignon Blanc sweetness, it’s quite easy to say that they are both dry wines, but Chardonnay tends to give a rounder mouthfeel and more tropical aromas that can give the sensation of higher residual sugar.

Chardonnay vs Sauvignon Blanc alcohol content

If you are wondering about what is the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in terms of alcohol, well the answer it’s easy. There is not a big difference, but Sauvignon Blanc tends to be on the lower side.

Food pairing

Whether you prefer white wine Chardonnay vs Sauvignon Blanc or the other way around, these two wines are both great with food and delicious as aperitif. Here is how to create the most perfect food and wine pairings.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon is a rather versatile wine when it comes to food-wine pairings, but above all it is a vegetarian wine, since few can boast such a herbaceous bouquet.

This makes it ideal with vegetable-based dishes, or white meats served with creamy citrus or herb-based sauces. With pasta with Genoese pesto it creates the ideal combination, and it is also perfect with some very difficult vegetables to combine such as spinach and asparagus.

It goes well with salads, light fish and seafood, thanks to its light body, while its marked acidity is able to balance and soften the spiciness of some Vietnamese, Thai and Indian dishes.


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 of the article we want to offer you some tasting suggestions. But these recommendations aren't directed at what we believe to be the absolute best wines, but rather those that can help you understand the comparison of Chardonnay wine vs Sauvignon Blanc especially on a territorial basis.

Tenuta San Leonardo Vette di San Leonardo Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Domaine Auchere Sancerre, France

  • Jean Max Roger Pouilly Fume Les Chante-Alouettes, France

  • Villa Maria Wairau Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

  • Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Australia

  • Tenuta San Leonardo Vette di San Leonardo Sauvignon Blanc, Italy

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