Sauvignon Blanc vs Pinot Grigio: The Battle of the Whites

The Sauvignon Blanc vs Pinot Grigio debate is one of the most common wine conversations.

Which wine is better for your palate? Is one more suited to a particular occasion? How do the carbs and calories compare? The answers to these questions will depend on exactly what you are looking for in a white wine.

There was a time in the 19th century when Pinot Grigio was classed as the best-made inexpensive wine available on the market. This began when cold fermentation and stainless steel caught on within winemakers, and the Northern Italians were quick to adopt it—making their native Pinot famous.

As for Sauvignon, it is the second most planted grape in both Australia and the United States. That's no small feat, and it's a result of the grape's popularity with wine drinkers.

In this article, I'll compare the key differences between the two.

What is the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio?

Taste

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio have vastly different flavor profiles despite having similar hues. Pinot Grigio is often favored by those who are beginner wine-drinkers, as it is usually softer and more subtle. The flavor of Sauvignon Blanc is hard to ignore and more suitable for people who already have a taste for wine.

Sauvignon Blanc is primarily based on fruity flavors, led by citrus. Some French Sauvignons will also have herbaceous notes. The Pinot Grigio only has slight citrus notes, with dominated white peach. In some makes it has a note of spice.

The key difference, however, is the aromatics. Sauvignon aroma will jump out of the glass into your nose, whereas Pinot Grigio is distinct for being quite neutral. On the other hand, Pinot Grigio is drier, rated in the ‘0/00 very dry’ section. Sauvignon Blanc is generally ‘½ off-dry'.

Carbs

Pinot Grigio is top of the list for those on keto diets, known as the lowest carb wine. Pinot is crisp but extremely dry and unsweetened, nonetheless, this gives it the advantage of having minimal carbs per serving. On average, this will be 3g of carbs per 5oz.

Sauvignon Blanc is also up there with the best low-carb wines, however, it has slightly more than Pinot Grigio. Known worldwide for its green apple and passion fruit flavors, Sauvignon is also sugar-free with minimal or zero residual sugar. This wine is typically 3.8g per 5oz.

Alcohol content

Sauvignon Blancs can range from medium to moderately high alcohol contents. Depending on the climate, it is normally between 12.5% and 14% by volume.

Pinot Grigio isn’t normally made as strong and sits in the medium alcohol content between 12% and 13.5%.

Calories

Both wines are fairly similar in calories, normally totaling just over 600 calories per bottle. However, since Pinot Grigio is drier and lower in alcohol content, it will have slightly fewer calories than Sauvignon Blanc. Either way, a bottle is over a quarter of your daily recommended calorie intake.

For dry wines, you can typically use the equation 24 x number of ounces. For sweet wines, it's 28 x number of ounces. This will differ depending on how dry, or how sweet the specific wine is. Alcohol contains ‘empty calories’, meaning they offer no nutritional value for our bodies.

New Zealand has also manufactured a low-calorie Sauvignon Blanc called ‘The Doctors’, designed for those who are on a calorie-controlled diet but don’t want to give up wine altogether.

Price

As a varietal, Sauvignon Blanc is a rather inexpensive white wine as the winemaking process is relatively easy compared to others. Its grapes are easy to grow and cultivate as they can thrive in almost all types of soil and climates. Due to this, it is produced by many regions, and since there is no shortage the price stays low.

Pinot Grigio was one of the first wines to become consistently inexpensive as it quickly joined into the cold fermentation technique. As the technique proved a success in heightening the flavor profiles of wine, Pinot Grigio continuously stuck to it.

Both of these white wines are two of the least expensive on the market, nonetheless, there are sweeter, pricier makes to each. For example, a sweet Sauvignon that is blended with Semillon will get bumped up in price. The sweetest Pinot, ‘The Heppenheimer’, sits at around $200 per bottle.

Which wine is better?

For food pairing

Pinot Grigio is an excellent summer drink and greatly accompanies fresh, delicate flavors. Some of the most common food matches include cooked fish, salads, and chicken. With this wine, you should avoid anything too heavy or creamy, as well as vinaigrettes. It can nicely accompany a wine and cheese night, as long as the cheeses are light such as mozzarella or goats cheese.

Sauvignon pairs well with raw foods including a variety of vegetables and seafood. This wine is the one to go for if your meal has any heavy sauces, tangy dairy, brininess, or vinaigrettes. It is commonly accompanied by Asian dishes, particularly Thai.

For weddings

The safest bet when buying wine for a wedding is to go for the typical crowd-pleasers, and luckily Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc both fall into this category. There isn’t a simple answer here on which is better for weddings point-blank, as it all really depends on the details of your wedding.

Think about your menu and match the wine up. Sauvignon goes best with chicken, oysters, Asian cuisine, vegetables, seafood, and heavy cheeses. Pinot Grigio goes best with canapes, salads, cold dishes, or light pasta dishes.

Sauvignon is a safe all year-round option, whereas Pinot Grigio is more often used at summer weddings.

For cooking

Both wines are popular choices for cooking, so deciding which one really comes down to the particular dish. As with accompanying wine with food, Sauvignon Blanc is often paired with creamy foods, and Pinot Grigio is paired with lighter dishes. The same system applies here.

Pinot Grigio is an uncomplicated wine to cook with due to its neutral flavor and aroma. It is best cooked with seafood dishes such as broth, stew, or linguine.

Sauvignon can be added to citrusy dishes or spicy marinades. It is the favored cooking wine for dense, creamy dishes as the acidity complements the flavor profile to even it out.