If you somewhat appreciate wine, you have likely heard of the two varieties, Chardonnay VS Pinot Grigio. After all, they are probably two of the most sought-after wines on the market.
You may also know that both fall in the category of white wines and are refreshing to the palette.
However, what may surprise you is that those are pretty much the only factors that are similar between the two.
Yes, Pinot Grigio is the perfect accompaniment for a warm summer’s day; Chardonnay, on the other hand, is a tad complex.
Swirl and sip on the two, and you will soon realize the distinction between crisp Pinot Grigio and creamy Chardonnay.
Read on to know the differences between the two, as it will help you make the ideal pairing choices.
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Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are both leading white wines, but that is pretty much all that is similar between them. Here are the primary areas where the two differ from one another:
Among the many differences between them, one that is hardest to miss is the difference in the grape skin color. Chardonnay comes from a green-skinned grape, while the Pinot Grigio grape has a grayish-blue hue. The latter can also have brownish-pink, black, or pale white grapes.
Chardonnay wine can originate from both hot and cool-climate regions. The wine from the hot areas comes from the Riverland region. On the other hand, the ones from the cool-climate locales are crafted in Southern Highlands, Victoria & Tasmania.
Chardonnay wines of the Burgundian varieties originate in the Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley regions.
The production of Pinot Grigio, however, takes place in several regions around Australia. These include the Adelaide Hills, Orange, Mornington Peninsula, New South Wales, Yarra Valley, and Tasmania.
From a Chardonnay wine, you can expect a full-bodied flavor that is bold yet dry. You will also find a hint of several fruits in it, including apple, starfruit, pineapple, and melon.
Chardonnay wines tend to be aged in oak, so they may also have an essence of butter, cream, or vanilla. However, if you opt for an unoaked Chardonnay, these buttery ad creamy tones will be absent.
Pinot Grigio wines are quite zesty, which is no surprise considering citrus is the main ingredient in this wine. For this reason, they often give off an aroma that is fruity and tangy as well.
Usually, the palette of this delectable wine includes apple and pear flavors.
The wine derives its name from the Chardonnay village sequestered in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy. The popular belief is that this village is this wine’s birthplace and holds the oldest Chardonnay vineyards.
Chardonnay can thrive in various climates and soils, making them a popular growing choice around the world. They were carried into the New World with America’s discovery, and since then, they’ve been grown everywhere.
Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia, in particular, are known for their wine cultivation.
Another popular belief is that Chardonnay is an accidental product of crossing Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grapes. The latter of the supposed parents is virtually impossible to find in France now.
The grape itself is green in color with a neutral flavor. So winemakers typically use oak, terroir, and technique to enhance the natural palette.
The flavor of Chardonnay wine is deeply influenced by where the grapes are grown. Warmer regions like Napa Valley or Australia will produce wines with a tropical fruit essence like pineapple, mango, or papaya. Along with that, they will have a mild acidity.
On the other hand, wines from cooler areas like Willamette Valley will taste like apple, pear, peach, and citrus. Besides, they have a more noticeable acidity.
If you find your Chardonnay has buttery or oak tones, that has more to do with the winemaker than the grape.
The Burgundy region of France is by far the largest producer of Chardonnay grapes. Yet, for some odd reason, it is better known for its Pinot Noir grape cultivation. The ratio between the cultivation is around 60% to a mere 30%.
The US (California in particular), comes in at a close second in the production of Chardonnay wine. The country is known to have approximately 41,000 ha in Chardonnay grape cultivation.
The top production areas in the state of California are Napa Valley and Sonoma country. However, cultivation also takes place in Oregon, Washington, and New York.
Other countries deeply involved in Chardonnay cultivation are Australia, Italy, Chile, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Moldova, and New Zealand.
Aging has no particular effect on Chardonnay and is entirely unnecessary with this wine. That said, you may store it for as long as ten years, provided it is in a temperature-controlled environment.
The recommended temperature for storage is near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are planning to partake in this delicious wine, pay attention to its body. An oaked, full-bodied Chardonnay will be most enjoyable chilled at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, if your Chardonnay has a less oaky pallet, serve it chilled at nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chardonnay wines work delightfully with a plethora of dishes. Here are some of your options:
If you enjoy a glass of Chardonnay, here are some more options from the white wine category to try:
Pinot Grigio is one of the best wines you can find in the market while looking for Italian wine styles. Even in America, it holds the second position among the most famous wines in the world.
Originally, the Pinot Grigio grapes come from Burgundy. They are quite like the Pinot Noir grapes but have a greyish-blue color. Although these grapes also have brownish-pink or even black and white colors.
In France, people call Pinot Grigio grapes Pinot Gris. While Gris means grey in the French language, Grigio is the Italian word for grey. Germans call it Grauburgunder that translates to the grey grape from Burgundy.
Other than Burgundy, the Pinot Grigio grapes are grown in various places such as Australia, Slovenia, and California. Even though the grape is the same, the wine style might be different in these locations.
In the 1300s, The Pinot Grigio grapes came to Switzerland from Burgundy. It was an Emperor’s favorite wine but was not that famous among other people.
The Pinot Gris became a hit when it came to northern Italy, and people in Fruili, Lombardy, Alto Adige, and Veneto regions started growing it.
It became even more popular when the plantation for Pinot Gris grapevine started in Eyrie Yards, Oregon, USA, in 1966.
The Pinot Grigio grape plantation covers more than 70,000 acres of land around the world. Out of this 70,000, Italy has 25,000 acres of land at which it grows the Pinot Grigio Grapes. The United States holds second place with 16,000 acres of land.
The Pinot Gris grapes are cultivated in around 12,500 acres in Germany, while Australia has 7,000 acres mainly for these plants. New Zealand, Hungary, Romania, and Austria comprise the remaining land.
For producing Pinot Grigio wines, the producer must extract juice from the Pinot Gris grapes and remove their skin layer. Due to the thin skin, the wine has a light color with a hint of pink.
The Pinot Gris grapes are among the first varieties of grapes harvested every year. Since these grapes mature quickly, their harvesting process might even start in August.
Even with this early process, it scores the right quantity of acidy and comes in various fruity flavors.
The “Alcohol by Volume” or ABV in Pinot Grigio wine can be anywhere between 11.5 and 13.5. You can store this wine at your home for 3 to 5 years from the date of production.
The Pinot Grigio wine usually takes six months to produce. You can expect it to be ready in late winter or early spring. Chardonnay, on the other hand, takes even more time to be bottled. But it also has a shelf life of at least ten years.
Pinot Grigio comes in three different flavors that may vary in different locations, depending on where the grapes came from.
Following are the flavors of Pinot Grigio Wine that you can find in various countries:
The Mineral and Dry flavor of Pinot Gris is most popular in the northern region of Italy, Hungary, and Austria.
With their powerful force on agriculture, the mountains help these grapes maintain the right acidity level. Due to this, you get a white wine that goes well with French fries or mussels.
The wine drinkers love this flavor of Pinot Grigio wines due to its saline quality, low fruit flavors, and simplicity.
Regions having a cool climate are more likely to produce these wines in different styles. Here are the locations where you can find this flavor of Pinot Grigio:
Produced in stainless steel tanks, there is no malolactic fermentation or oak aging in these wines. You can get the mineral and dry flavor with an alcohol level that ranges from 10 to 12 percent ABV.
You can find the fruity and dry flavored Pinot Gris in warmer regions such as Abruzzo, Australia, Chile, California, Sicily, and Tuscany. It is a fruit-driven style wine made with a rich, complex flavor.
You can smell the lemon, white peach, and yellow apple flavors in this wine. The fruity smell indicates that the wine comes from a sun-friendly climate.
Unlike the mineral and dry flavor, this wine style has malolactic fermentation. Due to this process, this type of wine has less acidity but a smooth mouthfeel.
Usually, the manufacturer uses stainless steel tanks or neutral barrels to produce this flavor of Pinot Gris wines.
Here are the countries that produce this fruit-flavored wine:
A unique, notable feature of this style is that it is grown on lees. Sometimes, the wine may have an additional creaminess due to the partial malolactic fermentation.
The fruity and sweet is a sweet Pinot Grigio wine style manufactured mainly in Alsace, France.
The winemakers in Alsace try to recreate the sweet white wine called Tokaji drunk by the kings in Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire (now known as Hungary).
The fruity and sweet Pinot Gris comes in multiple flavors, including honey-crisp apples, honeycomb, and lemon candy. The winemakers use advanced winemaking methods to improve the mouthfeel texture.
They use the late-harvested Pinot Gris grapes that maximize the flavors in the wine.
Pinot Grigio is a sweet white wine that goes well with heavy cream-based dishes and light spicy dishes. Like every other wine, Pinot Grigio also has an ideal serving temperature.
When served chilled, the flavors in this wine enhance and will produce a better taste.
The ideal serving temperature for Pinot Grigio wines is 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Serving this drink too warm or cold will deteriorate the flavors and ruin its taste.
You can place the wine bottle in your refrigerator for around 2 to 3 hours and take it out 10 minutes before you serve. If you want to serve it immediately, you can place it in a freezer for 20 minutes.
However, a rapid wine chiller will be more useful in this situation as it only takes less time to chill the wine bottle.
In case you want an accurate serving temperature for your Pinot Grigio wine, measure it with a wine temperature thermometer.
Serving the Pinot Gris wine at 48 degrees will improve the floral, mineral, citrus, and fruity flavors of the wine.
There are a lot of dishes you can serve with a glass of Pinot Grigio Wine. Here are some of the best foods you can pair with this wine:
If you loved having Pinot Grigio, you should try the following similar wines:
The only similarity between Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio wines is that both look quite identical in wine glasses, but the taste is really different. Chardonnay has an aroma of fresh-cut grass, while Pinot Grigio is a lighter drink with a melon flavor.
There are so many Chardonnay wines having different amounts of alcohol content available in the market at different prices. Here are some of the best ones that you can try:
Like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio wines also come in different flavors and prices. Following are some of the best Pinot Grigio wines available in the market:
It is not easy to select between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay as both are great to pair with your food.
The above Chardonnay vs. Pinot Grigio guide will help you decide which one is better for you. You can also try both wines and know the difference between their taste.