What IS the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc?

I love my wine and although I am usually a Rose wine drinker I do enjoy the odd glass of white. However when in a restaurant the white wine menu always confuses me so I decided to find out exactly what is the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are a great example of how white wines can be as different as two sisters of the same parents. Both of them are of French origin and are very popular all over the world. Of course, each of them has the taste and the aroma that makes you fall in love from the first sip.

In order to better understand the differences between them, you should imagine yourself at a blind wine tasting. For example, you have two bottles of white wine in front of you without labels or other visual differences. Your nose and your mouth are your only weapons in this battle.

Of course, before choosing between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc you should know their similarities. They are both white wines with citrus or tropical flavours. Both of them are prepared in a wide range of styles. However, Sauvignon Blanc will always be crisper than the majority of Chardonnays. Here is where the differences begin. Now let’s start the virtual wine tasting!


When you take a sip, you notice from the start the apple flavour. Besides apple, you can feel the citrus hits of lemon or perhaps pineapple. Overall the impression is of a smooth and rich wine, weighty and buttery.

Depending on the region where it comes from (warm or cool climate), it can have flavours of fig, melon, pear and peach. If the wine was kept in oak barrels, it would take the oak influence with spice, butter or hazelnut nuances.

Chardonnay food pairing

Due to its consistency, Chardonnay wines are in tune with a wide range of dishes such as: creamy soups,
creamy polenta, soft cheeses, chicken with cream sauce, shellfish, crab and lobster. The slight citrus notes help bring out these flavours, while the buttery notes compliment them completely.

Sauvignon Blanc

Unlike Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc is herbal. It can have a note of freshly mowed grass or bell pepper. It is also crisp and refreshing. As in case of Chardonnay, the taste of Sauvignon Blanc also depends on the region it comes from, varying from peach, passion fruit and kiwi-like flavors to notes of thyme, bell pepper and gooseberry. If Sauvignon Blanc was kept in oak barrels, it would not take as much oak influence as Chardonnay.

Sauvignon Blanc food pairing

Due to its herbal flavours, Sauvignon Blanc fits more to vegetables. Here are the most common pairings with Sauvignon Blanc: pasta salad, roasted vegetables, tilapia, halibut and trout, taco with salsa, pesto sauce and risotto with asparagus.

Ok so one is fruity an one is more savoury in flavour. Although this all sounds very interested I am still not sure I would be able to tell on a blind taste test. Mind you that virtual tasting did get my mouth watering, is it too early for wine?