Updated: Sep 10, 2021
What does a Sauvignon Blanc taste like? What does a Chardonnay taste like? How do they compare to each other?
Could you easily explain this to someone? Maybe you’re already very familiar with the tastes and characteristics of these two popular wines. If you are not, then I’ve got a great tasting you should try.
This wine tasting will showcase the characteristics that make both of these varietals unique. By the end, you’ll be able to answer these questions easily and you’ll even be able to identify these two types of wine without having to look at the bottle.
Sophisticated Wine Drinkers - or Not?
You may be surprised that not many wine lovers can tell the difference between these two popular varietals. Once, I attended a wine event at the Union League Club of Chicago. One of our friends was a member and invited us to attend. It was such an amazing event. They had top-notch wineries sampling their best wines and they had an amazing spread of food.
We attended a wine class that explained the business of wine. Discussing how small boutique wineries run their businesses and price their wines compared to the large wineries. It was very interesting.
Of course, at this wine class, we did a tasting. They placed Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in front of us. Asked us to take a sip of each and then identify which was Sauvignon Blanc and which was Chardonnay. Do you know that most people in that room got it wrong! I was floored.
I thought this was a gimme question and that every one of these sophisticated people would know the answer. It just goes to show that the “sophisticated” people don’t necessarily know more about wine than you!
With that in mind, let’s get started learning some valuable insights about Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. These are insights that most wine lovers don't take the time to understand.
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Wine Tasting
Step 1: Pick Up the Wine
Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, California
When you pick up the Kendall Jackson make sure it’s the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. It’s award-winning and gets 90+ ratings from wine critics. It’s also aged in oak barrels. You want this one to make a good comparison of the two types of wine.
Step 2: Prep the Wine
Place both bottles in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Or put them in the fridge overnight, then pull them out about 30 minutes before you plan to drink them. Refrigerators are usually set at 40°F and you want to serve this wine at about 50°F.
If the wine is too cold, the flavors and aromas won’t come through very well and you won’t get the best experience with the wine. This step may seem fussy, but it's an important one.
Step 3: Wine Glasses
Use two wine glasses for each person tasting. Pour Sauvignon Blanc in one and Chardonnay in the other. This will help you to easily compare each wine by look, aroma, and taste. Make sure to use actual wine glasses where the rim is smaller than the bowl.
I’m sure all of this seems obvious, but I did this tasting using small plastic glasses with the rim wider than the bowl. (Yes, I know. Very low-end approach to wine tasting, but we had quite a few people and didn’t want to wash a bunch of wine glasses. Call us lazy!) It did make a difference. It was much harder to really capture those aromas of the wine.
Step 4: Conduct the Tasting
Download the wine tasting mat below. Follow the instructions. Answer the questions. The tasting mat will guide you through the tasting, pointing out the key characteristics of each wine. By the end, you’ll be able to easily tell the difference between each wine. And we can call you “sophisticated”! :)
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Tasting - The Results
Do you have a favorite between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay? Share in the comments below.