Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio: Flavor & Food Pairing Comparison

Knowing the difference between Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio is essential because these are some of the most popular white wines in the world. The Chardonnay grape variety is planted worldwide and used to make sparkling wines in the Champagne wine region and Champagne alternatives. The Pinot Grigio white wine grape is also popular among many wine drinkers. In more detail, let’s look into the key differences between these two white wine varieties.

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio: 6 Ways To Compare These Delicious Wines

As a wine enthusiast, it’s helpful o have a framework that lets you compare excellent and average wines. Wine lovers who keep these six dimensions in mind can easily find the most noticeable difference between any two bottles in just a few minutes. Now, let’s discover the key differences between these wines.

Taste Comparison

Whether or not you’re a wine expert, it’s helpful to start by looking for a wine’s fruity flavors.

Chardonnay has fruit flavors like green apple and lemon when made in a cool climate. Chardonnay wines made in warmer climates tend to have tropical fruit flavors. Chardonnay flavor profiles are also strongly influenced by aging in oak barrels. Typical oak flavors include buttery flavors, vanilla, and spices, while unoaked Chardonnay lacks a buttery taste.

The fruit characters in Pinot Grigio include pear, lemon, pear, and apple. Pinot Grigio’s also offers floral aromas. Overall, Pinot Grigio is the second most popular white wine in America, so you’re in good company if you enjoy this wine.

Acidity

Pinot Grigio usually has a medium or higher acidity, making it a refreshing wine. In comparison, Chardonnay is usually considered high in acidity. If you like higher acidity wines like Sauv Blancs, Chardonnay might be more to your liking.

Alcohol Content

Also known as alcohol level, it is helpful to know the difference between these white wines. Chardonnay has a relatively high alcohol level: between 13.5 to 14.5%. Therefore, you may want to moderate how much you pour into your wine glass. The alcohol content may be slightly lower with Chardonnay in cooler climates like Canada. The alcohol content of Pinot Grigio tends to be lower – this white grape usually makes 12.5 to 13.5% alcohol content.

Body

The body in wine is closely related to alcohol content. Therefore, a full-bodied wine, Chardonnay, also tends to have higher alcohol. In contrast, Pinot Grigio has a medium body. These differences are significant when it comes to food pairing. Usually, Pinot Grigio will pair better with lighter dishes like salads. Oaked Chardonnay is sometimes perceived to have a higher body due to its rich flavors, like vanilla and buttered popcorn.

Tannins

A white bottle of wine usually has very low tannins. Tannins are naturally occurring substances in wine, tea, trees, and other plants. In red wines, high tannin levels can add a hint of bitterness to the wine. In comparing Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay, Chardonnay has relatively higher tannins of the two. Pinot Grigio’s tannin content is much lower.

Dry Wine Vs Sweet Wines

Acidity level and sugar content influence whether a finished wine is dry or sweet. Other factors influence sugar and acidity. For example, warm climates tend to produce riper fruit and potentially more sugar. If you prefer mineral flavors to be emphasized in your wine, look for unoaked wine.

If you’re looking for dry whites, most Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are made in a dry style. That said, wine in barrels adds secondary notes to the wine, like spice, flavors of toast, and more, which may make the wine feel sweeter.

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio: Food Pairing Options

Choosing what to eat with these popular white wines is easy when you keep a few guidelines in mind. Let’s start with Chardonnay.

There is a significant difference between oaked Chardonnay and unoaked Chardonnay.

An unoaked Chardonnay like Petit Chablis from France goes well with white meats (chicken, pork loin, and veal), seafood (halibut, shrimp, and crab), and several kinds of cheese like asiago and Havarti. In addition, unoaked Chardonnay goes well with lighter salads and fruits, so enjoy this wine with salad courses.

An oaked Chardonnay, like the Beringer Luminus Chardonnay, is a bit different. It is more likely to be full-bodied, so it goes well with richer foods like salmon, corn on the cob, and chicken alfredo. Love to eat salmon? Then check out my guide to the best wine with salmon.

Pinot Grigio is simpler to pair with food because it tends to be fresh and light (find out how Pinot Grigio Vs Pinot Noir compare). Think of light summer dishes like salads, seafood, and chicken dishes. Pinot Grigio doesn’t pair well with heavier dishes or those that involve significant amounts of cream.   

Discover More White Wine Insights

You know all about the main differences between Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio, so why not keep learning more about the wine world? Here are a few more recommended posts to read next:

Cru Chardonnay

Want to discover France’s very best Chardonnay wines? Find out what cru Chardonnay has to offer. After reading this post, you’ll finally be able to decode some of France’s specialized wine jargon.

Price of Chardonnay

Not sure how much to spend on a nice bottle of Chardonnay? This price guide has everything you need to get started and find a bottle in your price range.

Riesling vs Chardonnay

Comparing different types of wine is one of the best ways to expand your wine knowledge and enjoyment. The Chardonnay vs Riesling wine guide introduces the flavor differences, suggested wines under $50, and food pairing tips.

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio In Summary

Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are different in a few key ways. Chardonnay tends to have a higher acidity and potentially higher acidity. Pinot Grigio tends to have a light or medium body. Both wines are usually made in a dry style. Both Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay wines pair well with many seafood dishes. Finally, these are popular wines grown worldwide, so you can find many different vintages to enjoy!

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio: Flavor & Food Pairing Comparison
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