Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are among the most popular choices when it comes to white wine. These two wines actually have very similar characteristics, so which one should you pick?
While Sauvignon Blanc has a slightly more acidic and tart flavor than Chenin Blanc, many people prefer its herbal and refreshing taste. However, others find it too dry or acidic, and instead prefer the richer body and rounder mouthfeel of a good Chenin Blanc.
In this article I'll discuss the main characteristics of both wines to help you choose which one is right for you.
Those who prefer sweet white wines typically favor the richer body and rounder mouthfeel of Chenin Blanc, as well as its deep flavors. Others appreciate the tartness of Sauvignon Blanc for cutting through fatty dishes like avocados or cheese
What’s the difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc?
To help you really understand the difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, let's take a look at their major characteristics in a bit more detail.
Sauvignon Blanc is generally crisp and grassy with flavors of gooseberry, grapefruit, and passionfruit. This makes it the perfect pairing to rich, fatty dishes like avocados or cheese.
Chenin Blanc on the other hand has richer flavors like quince, nuts, and honey. It's therefore a better pairing for poultry dishes, pastas, and lighter seafood like shrimp or mussels.
Which is sweeter/drier?
Sauvignon Blanc is almost exclusively dry. If you're looking for a sweet wine, don't bother with Sauvignon Blanc.
Chenin Blanc however can actually range from dry to sweet, or even sparkling, depending on the style. So you'll need to look into the specific bottle you're buying to know what to expect.
Chenin Blanc is generally more full bodied and therefore has a slightly higher alcohol content than Sauvignon Blanc: 12-14.5% vs 11.5-13.5%.
This isn't enough of a difference to make a huge impact on your choices, but it may be worth keeping in mind if you have more than one glass, as that's when small differences in ABV can really start to add up.
Typically, the sweeter a wine, the higher the sugar content and therefore the higher the calorie content. There isn't actually much difference in calorie content between a standard glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a standard glass of Chenin Blanc though.
Which is more expensive?
Chenin Blanc tends to be slightly more expensive than Sauvignon Blanc, but that's mostly because it's less common.
It's more accurate to say that there is a much wider price range of Sauvignon Blancs. This means you can find everything from $7 bottles you would probably only want to use for cooking all the way to rare $300 bottles you would save for a special occasion.
Which is better?
The best wine always depends on what you're using it for, what you're eating, and your own personal taste.
For your taste
If you like your white wines on the dry side then Sauvignon Blanc is a safe bet as it's almost always a dry wine. If you're looking for crisp, fresh flavors, Sauvignon Blanc is going to be a great option for you.
If you prefer more variety or like a balance between sweet and dry flavors then Chenin Blanc might be the better choice for you. If you typically prefer sweeter wines or are looking for a good pairing with complex dishes, then a richer Chenin Blanc will be perfect.
This means Chenin Blanc can appeal to a wider range of people.
If you need a wine to cook with and don't want anything too expensive or rare then Sauvignon Blanc is probably going to be the better option for you as it's quite affordable. A standard bottle of Sauvignon Blanc should cost between $7-$15.
That's not to say you can't cook with a Chenin Blanc, but the price is typically a little higher and you may find that Sauvignon Blanc does a better job of flavoring your food. The subtle notes in Chenin Blanc will be lost when cooking.
Both wines are perfect for weddings, but there are some extra things you'll want to consider.
If your wedding is outside in warm weather during the day then Sauvignon Blanc will be great as it's lighter and crisper. If it's indoors or at night then Chenin Blanc will probably better suit the venue as its richer body means it can handle more complex flavors.
You should also think about what food you're serving at your wedding. If you're serving a heavy meal then you'll probably want to go with a richer Chenin Blanc. If it's going to be lighter foods like cheeses and fruits, Sauvignon Blanc will be perfect as its flavors can better complement those types of dishes.
Both are sure to be crowd pleasers though!
The bottom line
So there we have it: a brief look at some of the major differences between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
As you can see, the main difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc is their taste and mouthfeel. But while Chenin Blanc has a wider variety of flavors and Sauvignon Blanc tends to be lighter and crisper, both can suit a wide variety of occasions and taste great.
If you're looking for something that's refreshing, crisp, and dry then Sauvignon Blanc is the way to go. If you want to explore more complex flavors or are planning on serving your wine with spicy foods then Chenin Blanc is probably the better choice for you.
They're honestly both great wines that you can enjoy any time of the year, with a wide range of dishes!