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Pinot Grigio vs. Chardonnay: 3 Differences & Which is Sweeter

A fresh chilled glass of ice wine overlooking a Canadian vineyard during a Summer sunset

Pinot Grigio vs. Chardonnay: 3 Differences & Which is Sweeter

Pinot Grigio vs. Chardonnay: What's the better choice? Whatever you choose depends on what you like to complement your meal. It depends on whether you're eating a steak or other meat. The wine you choose also depends on your taste preferences.

The history of both wines can also give you insight into their use. For example, Pinot Grigio was born out of Switzerland in the 1300s. It eventually made its way to France and Italy. The grape from this wine comes from cooler climates and hillsides. On the other hand, Chardonnay originated in the 12th century. It was made in the Chablis region.

This guide covers everything you need to know regarding the difference between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. We show you the history, the taste differences, and what meals best complement each wine.

Various sorts of cheese, grapes and two glasses of the white wine
Pinot Grigio vs. Chardonnay has significant differences.

©Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock.com

Pinot Grigio vs. Chardonnay: How Are They Made?

The wine is typically made dry instead of sweet for Pinot Grigio. However, it can be made sweet in some wineries, in which case they slow the fermentation process. One of the unique things about the aging process, which occurs with any wine, is that it's aged in stainless steel barrels instead of wooden barrels. This gives the wine a fresh and fruity flavor.

Another thing that makes this white wine unique is that it's made of white wine grapes, a part of the grapes from a popular French grape known as Pinot Gris.

Chardonnay has a much different process (and is the sweeter of the two white wines). However, like Pinot Grigio, it's also made in a dry style, which essentially means that the sugars are converted into alcohol by yeast. When the sugar is converted, the wine is considered dry.

Another white wine, Chardonnay, is different because it has tannins. This is the bitterness that is naturally found in grapes. These tannins come from oak barrels instead of stainless steel barrels, which are part of the wine-making process.

What's the Taste Difference?

The taste difference between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay is influenced by many factors. For instance, the alcohol affects the taste of either white wine. Pinot Grigio has between 12% and 14% alcohol content by volume. Chardonnay has between 13.5% and 14.5%.

While Pinot Grigio is typically a dry wine, it does have a diverse taste, even if it's not usually sweet. For instance, there are a variety of different kinds of Pinot Grigio wines that give off different flavors. Here's a breakdown of some of the most popular Pinot Grigio wines.

  • Italian Pinot Grigio Wines: This highly acidic wine has fruity flavors like green apples and peaches.
  • French Pinot Gris Wines: This white wine offers fruit flavors. Some of the best fruits that come out of this wine are pear. You'll also get hints of vanilla in some of the wines. It's known as a dessert wine.
  • New World Pinot Grigio Wines: You'll notice more specific fruit with this wine, like stone apples. It's also not as acidic. This wine can be found in New Zealand and California.

Chardonnay also has a variety of flavors. It depends on where it's grown and how it's made. Here are some of the most popular Chardonnay wines:

  • Ramey 2018 Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley)
  • Josh Cellars 2019 Chardonnay (California)
  • Kendall-Jackson 2019 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay (California)
  • Sterling 2019 Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay (California)
  • Four Vines 2019 Naked Chardonnay (Central Coast)

Best to Drink With Either Wine

Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay pair with a ton of amazing food options. You can find snacks like cheese and crackers and full-time meals perfect for either wine.

Here are some of the best foods that go with either wine.

  • Cheeses: Brie, ricotta, and Camembert are some of the best cheeses that go with either wine.
  • Proteins: Fish is the best kind of protein and the best kind to pair with your Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. You can also pair it with chicken and pork.
  • Dessert: If you like your wine with dessert, then no look no further than crème brulee or crepes as the best desserts to complement either white wine.

What Wine Should You Drink?

Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are perfect for a lot of foods. They are perfect for wine tasting because they are considered some of the best wines in the world. The key is to find what you enjoy the most. This guide gives you an idea of their differences and what makes them unique.

Overall, you'll find that these white wines are some of the most popular of any wine. They are also the best when trying different foods to get the most flavor.

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