How does Chardonnay compare to Sauvignon Blanc?

Three wine glasses with white wine.
Quick Quiz! Identify which is a Sauvignon Blanc, Oaked Chardonnay, and Unoaked Chardonnay.

Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two white wines that are thought of as being wildly different from each other. But, there are situations where I think of them as being somewhat similar. Let’s look at their typical characteristics to get a better picture of these two very popular wines, then identify each wine in the picture above.

Sauvignon Blanc Taste Profile

The hallmark of Sauvignon Blanc is its high acidity and green herbaceous notes. Let’s break down its taste profile a bit further.

Color: Pale straw with a hint of green.

Flavors & Aromas: Citrus notes of lemon and green apple and herbaceous notes of bell pepper and cut grass.

Structure: high acidity, dry (no residual sugar), medium body, and around 12-14% alcohol by volume.

Find out more details about the Sauvignon Blanc taste profile.

Chardonnay Taste Profile

Chardonnay is unique because it can be produced using three different methods. It can be aged in oak barrels giving it a full, rich, oaky flavor. It can be aged in steel tanks giving it a light, bright taste profile. And the last method is by creating a sparkling wine or Champagne. We’ll stick with the first two methods which result in what is called “still” wine (meaning there are no bubbles).

Oaked Chardonnay (ie. matured in oak barrels)

Color: Deep gold. This is because the oak adds color to the wine giving it that deep golden hue.

Flavors & Aromas: Stone fruit notes of peach and tropical notes of pineapple and banana. Additional notes of vanilla, toast, and butter come from the oak barrels.

Wine Structure: Medium acidity, dry (no residual sugar), medium- to full-body, 13-14% alcohol by volume.

Unoaked Chardonnay (ie. mature in stainless steel tanks)

Color: Medium straw. This is a yellowish hue that falls between the pale yellow of the Sauvignon Blanc and the deep gold of the oaked Chardonnay.

Flavors & Aromas: Citrus notes of apple and lemon.