What is the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc?


White wine is widely known for being the more inviting and easy going wine to approach. Red wine is generally like a meal, strong and rich with an acquired taste. On the other hand, white wine is light and appealing. While some dismiss white wine as all the same, it’s just not true.

There is so much potential and variation between flavours, pairings and taste. To explore the stark contrasts that do exist between white wines, let’s take a closer look at two well-known staples of the range; Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

After comparing the difference between these two dry, white wines you will discover what one would suit you, and your tastes, best!

Sauvignon Blanc


This herbal, dry wine hails from the Loire Valley and Bordeaux region of France. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the grape was introduced to New Zealand. Now the wine is produced around the world, including France, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Chile and Brazil.

Despite its distant origin, New Zealand is known to produce fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, so definitely check out some local fare.


Generally, Sauvignon Blanc can be described as an herbal, fruity and “green” flavour. It includes the savoury flavours of fresh cut grass and gooseberry, intermingling alongside sweeter fruits like grapefruit and green melon.

However, climate can play a crucial role in the flavour of the wine ultimately produced. In cooler climates, the wine will lean towards those green, acidic flavours, whereas in warmer climates it will produce something more tropical and fruity.

Food Pairing

Sauvignon Blanc can be paired with a wide variety of food because of its intense taste. Traditionally it is paired with cheese, but also fits nicely with white, flaky fish like trout, pesto sauce, pasta salads, and roasted vegetables.


In addition, it’s also one of the few wines known to pair well with sushi. This wine tends to go well with strong flavours like Mediterranean meats, cilantro and olives.

Take a look at our top 5 Summer Sauvignons



This full-bodied wine was originally produced in Burgundy, France. Now, it has made its way around the world, including little old New Zealand. Although New Zealand is more famous for its production of Sauvignon Blanc, it still produces a lot of quality Chardonnay.


Nicknamed the “Homecoming Queen” of white wine, the tell-tale signs you’re drinking Chardonnay is the hint of apple flavour sneaking through. Other fruity flavours include starfruit, pineapple and yellow melon.

Because it is often aged in oak, a lot of Chardonnay will have a buttery, vanilla or creamy taste to it as well. It’s relatively rare to age wine in oak, so this flavour is mostly unique to Chardonnay.

In cooler climates the wine is likely to have a more acidic, green apple flavour to it, whereas in warmer climates it will have a lower acidity and a likely higher alcohol content.

Food Pairing

Most commonly Chardonnay is paired with white meats such as roast chicken and turkey. However, it doesn’t tend to pair well with many fish but it will pair with seafood such as lobster, crabs and shellfish.


You could also try having it with creamier dishes, such as cream based soups, creamy polenta and soft cheeses.

Leaning away from the meats, try Chardonnay with nut based sauces and vegetables like cauliflower.