Pinot Grigio vs. Sauvignon Blanc: What's the Difference?

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 | 0 Comments
Pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc poured into two glasses

If you enjoy white wines but don’t know your way around the grapes, sip into something different by trying a new varietal and learning the difference between pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc. While many wine enthusiasts prefer the endless selection of reds, there is a wonderfully diverse world of white wines to explore as well. Foodies in particular often gravitate towards white wines because reds can overpower delicate flavors. 

That being said, you can only drink so much chardonnay. Pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc will offer a refreshing change. Both wines are typically brighter and fruitier than chardonnay, but there are subtle differences. Once you learn a little more about pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc, you can begin to appreciate the intricacies of both types of wine.


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What Is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot grigio is one of the most popular types of wine in the United States, second only to chardonnay. It is made from pinot grapes, often the pinot blanc variety, and originates from France.

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What Does Pinot Grigio Taste Like?

You’re probably familiar with chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, which are both considered to be dry white wines. But have you ever wondered “What is a dry white wine?” Dry is the opposite of sweet. Pinot grigio is a medium-dry wine that is brighter and crisper than a chardonnay but still not overly sweet. When comparing the taste of pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc, the tastes vary widely depending on where they are produced.

However, don’t confuse pinot grigio with pinot gris. While they are made from the same grape, they are very different styles of wine. Pinot grigio is primarily produced in Italian wine regions while pinot gris is mainly produced in France. Pinot gris is a richer wine that is closer to a chardonnay than a pinot grigio.

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What Is Sauvignon Blanc?

Coming in third on the most popular white wine list is sauvignon blanc. Most people who don’t love chardonnay are probably most familiar with this option. This wine is made from green-skinned sauvignon blanc grapes and comes from the Bordeaux region of France.

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What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?

When choosing chardonnay vs. sauvignon blanc vs. pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc is the least dry of the three white wines (more toward the sweet end but nowhere near as sweet as a moscato or dessert wine). Sauvignon blanc tends to hit the palate more boldly and can be very fruit-forward. 

Pinot Grigio vs. Sauvignon Blanc Wine

Having discovered a little about each type of wine, we can now delve more into their differences and similarities, allowing you to confidently answer the question: “What’s the difference between pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc?”

Knowing the difference between pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc can help you pick the best wine
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One of the similarities between pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc is where they originate. Both originate from French wine regions, yet neither achieved popularity in that country. Italian winemakers embraced the pinot grigio grape, which grows very well in their climates, while sauvignon blanc found its home in New Zealand, where it became the wine of choice. 

There are different grape types in pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc
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Most winemakers describe the aroma of pinot grigio as subtly spicy but with notes of honeysuckle. Pinot grigio compared to sauvignon blanc is less punchy on the nose. Sauvignon blanc is usually quite fragrant with a distinctive green or citrusy note.

Flavor Profiles

When comparing the taste of pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc, they translate to very different flavor profiles. Grassy is often a word used to describe the flavor of sauvignon blanc. It is typically bright and zesty, with levels of fruitiness varying depending on the region it originates from. Grapefruit is commonly associated with sauvignon blanc as well.

Pinot grigio compared to sauvignon blanc has a more delicate flavor with hints of peach or apple. It is considered to be a better “starter wine” compared to sauvignon blanc if you are new to exploring white varietals.

If you are curious to learn even more about these wines, consider signing up for a virtual wine tasting hosted by a professional sommelier. These expert hosts can walk you through how to taste wine and the differing attributes of pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc. 

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Alcohol Content

In terms of alcohol content, sauvignon blanc vs. pinot grigio are essentially the same. Each variety will normally have between 12.0% and 13.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). 

Chardonnay vs. Sauvignon Blanc vs. Pinot Grigio Wine

The good news is when it comes to white wines, there are many different varieties to choose from. If you are tired of California chardonnays, then start your exploration with pinot gris, which is similar but not a stark change. From there, reach for pinot grigio for a break from the buttery norm. When you’re feeling adventurous, it’s time to pop the cork on a sauvignon blanc that will be a distinct departure from your everyday chardonnay. 

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Sauvignon Blanc vs. Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

One of the best things to learn when it comes to pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc is food and wine pairings. If you’re looking for the right wine to pair with seafood, reach for pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc. Pinot grigio's delicate and subtle flavor is an ideal complement to mild foods. Pinot grigio also goes naturally with many Italian foods as it is produced in the country. Pour a glass to go with your olive oil- or cream-based pasta. 

Sauvignon blanc’s bolder flavor profile is the ideal partner for dishes that feature a lot of herbs as well as spiced fare — try sauvignon blanc with your next tikka masala. It’s also a natural pairing for white meats like chicken and pork as the mild flavors are enhanced by zesty sauvignon blanc.

In general, lighter and milder foods pair well with less dry white wines like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. For savory foods that are richer in flavors, try a chardonnay or a pinot gris vs. sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio for your best match.

Seafood is a recommended pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc food pairing
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Pinot Grigio vs. Sauvignon Blanc: Price and Availability


When it comes to wines, prices widely vary based on where a wine is produced, the amount of time it has spent aging and how much work went into production. Pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc in your everyday grocery or liquor store will usually be in the same price range. You can buy perfectly enjoyable bottles for around $12 in large batch formats. Of course, there are lots of options to splurge on if you want a longer-aged or otherwise higher-end variety.

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Availability in the United States

Happily, both pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc are widely available in the U.S. You can probably find several options of each anywhere you’d buy beer; even gas station markets offer multiple versions of these popular products. For a high-quality bottle, you'll find many options in wine shops or even at a nearby vineyard.

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Understanding the difference between pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc is a lesson worth learning when it comes to white wines. Knowing the subtle differences between the two will help you pick the right partner for your meal when you eat out and expand your wine horizons when you dine in. Once you have explored pinot grigio vs. sauvignon blanc, you’ll be ready to continue the journey into more options like riesling, viognier or torrontés.

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.