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White wine can range from very dry, such as some varieties of pinot grigio, to very sweet, like sweet rieslings and oaked chardonnay wines. One of the smoothest, most drinkable white wine and widely pleasing, sauvignon blanc is clean and refreshing. Neither sweet nor dry, this white is often described as having notes of citrus and the lightly sweet smell of freshly cut grass.

What Are the Main Differences Between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc?

The key difference between a pinot grigio and a sauvignon blanc is the mouth feel and their aromatics. The two wines are, however, different in a number of other ways. Each wine comes from a different variety of grape that grows in different regions of the world. Both can be made into lightly sweet wines if the grapes are harvested later or if some residual natural sugars are left behind.

Pinot grigio originated in the Burgundy region of France, where it was originally known as pinot gris because of the grapes’ blueish-gray hue. The wine migrated to the Lombardy region of Italy in the 12th century, where it was called pinot grigio and became more popular. Today, the grapes are also grown in the United States and Germany, two countries that have helped make it the popular white wine we enjoy today.

With origins in the South of France, Italy, Spain, Romania and Moldova, sauvignon blanc grapevines were cultivated and popularized in the Bordeaux region and the Loire Valley in France before expanding globally. With more than 275,000 acres of vines planted worldwide, sauvignon blanc grapes are among the most widely planted, and the styles and flavors of this white wine vary quite significantly based on the landscape in which they’re grown and harvested.

What Does Pinot Grigio Taste Like?

Pinot grigio is typically a dry wine. White zinfandel, which is a sweet wine with a bitter aftertaste, has largely been replaced by moscato as the more popular sweet white to drink, but pinot grigio is drier. Though drier than white zinfandel, pinot grigio should not be considered a dry white.

Pinot grigio is a crisp and neutral white wine with light acidity and flavors that can resemble lemon, lime or apple. This makes it ideal for cleansing the palate between courses as well as making it a good pairing for many dishes. Because this white wine is neutral, strong foods will not overpower any subtleties or light notes the wine may have. While a pinot grigio is not a strong enough wine to stand up to a heavy meal like steak, it pairs nicely with pasta and fish. This wine also can be served with an entree or cheese course to, again, cleanse the palate before dessert.

What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?

Sauvignon blanc comes in a wide range of styles. This white is often dry, and it tends to be drier than pinot grigio. Because it’s a drier wine with more forward notes and aromatics, sauvignon blanc should be served with lighter dishes such as salads or fish.

The flavors or notes in sauvignon blanc range from lime or citrus, which comes from a less ripe grape, to peach, which is produced when the grapes are more mature at harvest. Other aromatics that are often found in sauvignon blancs are more herbaceous, such as grass, bell pepper or even jalapeño. New Zealand and California sauvignon blancs sometimes have residual sugars, making them slightly sweeter than the typical acidic, dry variety that is most common.

About the Author

Molly Harris

Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.