Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are two of the biggest names in the world of white wine. It’s easy to order a glass of either of these delicious white wines, but there are actually significant differences between different types of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.
The taste and even the names of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay wines depend on where and how they are made.
To learn more about two of the most popular white wines worldwide, keep reading! We’re going to be outlining the differences in how these wines are produced, what they taste like, which food pairings are recommended for each one, and more!
Pinot Grigio Vs Chardonnay Production
Where Is Pinot Grigio Made?
Pinot Grigio is, for the most part, produced in Italy. Most Italian Pinot Grigio is made in the North East of the country. This includes regions such as Lombardy, Trentino, Veneto, Alto Adige, and Friuli.
However, Pinot Gris, which is the term for Pinot Grigio made in France, is primarily grown and produced in the Alsace region.
Where Is Chardonnay Made?
The homeland of Chardonnay is Burgundy, which is a region in France. However, Chardonnay can also be produced in California’s Lake Country, Napa Valley, or Paso Robles.
Other countries producing Chardonnay today include Argentina, Italy, and Australia.
With that being said, Burgundy remains the producer of the most affordable, yet most high-value Chardonnays worldwide.
Chardonnay Vs Pinot Grigio Grape Comparison
One of the easiest ways to tell a Chardonnay from a Pinot Grigio is simply to taste the wine, since these white wines have distinctly different notes in terms of flavor and aroma.
However, you may be able to distinguish between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay before the wine is even bottled, simply due to the color of the grapes.
The grapes used to make Chardonnay, and those used in the production of Pinot Grigio, have different-colored skins.
Chardonnay is made using grapes with green skin, whereas if you look at the grapes used to make Pinot Grigio, you’ll see that they are a blue-gray color.
This is because Pinot Grigio grapes are actually varietal mutations of the grapes used to make the famous red wine, Pinot Noir. The name for these mutated white wine grapes is Pinot Gris.
They originate from France, and the process of turning these grapes into wine involves discarding the skins and only pressing the fruit.
Once Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are bottled, however, you won’t be able to tell the difference based on the color.
While the skins of the grapes are different colors, the fruit looks roughly the same inside, which means that Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are basically identical when bottled.
Comparing The Flavors Of Chardonnay And Pinot Grigio
Chardonnay Flavor Profile
It’s difficult to say what Chardonnay, as a whole, tastes like, because different bottles of Chardonnay can have different flavor profiles depending on where and how they are made.
In general, however, Chardonnay tends to be full-bodied and dry, with fruity notes. The acidity of this white wine is quite high, as is its alcohol content. Most Chardonnays contain notes of apple, lemon, star fruit, and pineapple.
Oaked Chardonnay will taste slightly different and have a different quality from unoaked Chardonnay. It will be creamier and have a buttery mouthfeel alongside notes of vanilla and soft wood.
Californian Chardonnay is more likely to be oaked than Chardonnay produced in New Zealand, Australia, and Chile. These unoaked Chardonnays will have a more acidic flavor with more prominent citrus notes.
Typically, the mouthfeel of Chardonnay is not as dry as Pinot Grigio because this wine does not contain as many tannins.
Because of this, even though Pinot Grigio is classed as a dry white wine, it is less dry and more buttery compared to Pinot Grigio, especially if it has been oak-matured.
Pinot Grigio Flavor Profile
Pinot Grigio can also vary in flavor depending on where it’s produced. However, most Pinot Grigios are acidic with bright fruit notes. You might taste peach, lemon, apple, honey, melon, and almond.
With that being said, a bottle of Pinot Gris (which is French Pinot Grigio) will be more full-bodied and have a richer flavor compared to Pinot Grigio from Italy.
Italian Pinot Grigio has more of a light and crisp quality, whereas Pinot Gris is made using riper grapes, which alter the overall flavor.
Pinot Grigio has fewer tannins than Chardonnay, which means it’s drier. The tannins don’t affect the flavor of the wine so much as the mouthfeel.
If you taste Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc one after the other, you’ll see that they have very similar mouthfeels because they contain similar tannin levels.
Best Food Pairings For Pinot Grigio And Chardonnay
What To Eat With Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is one of the best wines to enjoy with seafood. It also blends beautifully with citrus flavors. For this reason, ceviche is one of our personal favorite dishes to pair with Pinot Grigio, because it contains both fish and zest.
With that being said, Pinot Grigio is a versatile wine that can be paired with a lot of different dishes, so if you’re not a fan of seafood, don’t worry! You can still enjoy this delicious white wine with a meal.
Try to stick to citrus flavors when you can, since these are the flavors that really bring the best out of Pinot Grigio.
Something like lemon chicken piccata, or any aromatic dish featuring lemon or lemongrass, will go beautifully with this white wine.
Remember, Pinot Grigio is best served chilled. If you don’t refrigerate the wine before serving, it’s likely to lose some of its flavor.
Food Pairings For Chardonnay
The flavors in Chardonnay wine are different from the flavors in Pinot Grigio, so the recommended food pairings will also be different.
Additionally, depending on where your Chardonnay was made, it might taste different from another bottle of Chardonnay. So, you have a lot to take into account when pairing food with your Chardonnay.
If the bottle of Chardonnay you’re working with hasn’t been oaked (for example, if it comes from France or Burgundy), it will pair with similar dishes to Pinot Grigio. You’ll want to prioritize fish dishes featuring citrus elements.
On the other hand, if you’re using oaked Chardonnay (like the kind made in California), you’ll be better off choosing a creamy, buttery dish to go with it. Think pasta, risotto, or cheese-based dishes.
Green vegetables and pesto go really well with oaked Chardonnay too.
If you’re looking for food that pairs well with most bottles of Chardonnay, we recommend soft cheese. Goat’s cheese and brie are wonderful with a glass of Chardonnay.
Serving Tips For Pinot Grigio And Chardonnay
How To Serve Pinot Grigio
As a dry white wine, Pinot Grigio should be served at a temperature between 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 49 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the Pinot Grigio is lighter, it should be served slightly cooler, whereas if it’s darker, you can afford to serve it a little warmer.
The reason for this is that lighter Pinot Grigio tends to be more acidic, and in order to maintain the freshness of the wine and stop it from tasting too vinegary, it’s best to keep it cooler.
Getting the most out of your Pinot Grigio also involves choosing the right glass for serving.
You can, of course, drink Pinot Grigio from a regular wine glass, but a Pinot Grigio glass has now been developed by Riedel Terlato Friuli.
This glass has a lean bowl and a small mouth, which helps to keep the flavor as clean as possible while enhancing the aromas of the wine.
Serving Suggestions For Chardonnay
Like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay should be served chilled. However, the ideal temperature range for Chardonnay is slightly warmer than Pinot Grigio.
Chardonnay should be served between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. You can get your Chardonnay to the right temperature quickly with a 30-minute ice bath.
Alternatively, putting the wine in the refrigerator for a couple of hours will do the trick.
In terms of choosing the right glass for Chardonnay, most experts will recommend fine crystal, since these are the best for bringing out flavor and aroma.
The rim, in particular, should be thin, but the bowl should be relatively large.
The larger the bowl of your wine glass, the more aeration the wine will enjoy, and the better the aromas will smell.
Pinot Grigio Vs Chardonnay: Which Should You Choose?
If you’re reading this guide in an effort to decide which wine you should purchase, here’s an overview of the different factors that separate Pinot Grigio from Chardonnay.
These pointers will help you to decide which wine will suit your personal preferences and meals better.
Whereas Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied wine, Chardonnay is full-bodied. Both wines are acidic, although Pinot Grigio has brighter flavors and is crisper than Chardonnay.
The main identifiable flavors in Pinot Grigio are green melon, lemon, honey, peach, apple, and almond. On the other hand, a glass of Chardonnay will bring you flavors such as pineapple and star fruit.
There is some overlap between the flavors of these wines, however, since both have citrus notes and a subtle taste of apple.
The mouthfeel of Pinot Grigio is very different from what you would expect from Pinot Grigio. In fact, While Pinot Grigio is particularly dry, Chardonnay often has more of a buttery texture due to being aged in oak barrels more frequently than Pinot Grigio.
So, if you’re looking for a smoother, creamier mouthfeel, Chardonnay is your best choice. Pinot Grigio is a better wine if you’re looking for something dry and tannic.
You should consider the kind of food you’ll be enjoying with your wine before you decide on Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
While these dry white wines go with similar dishes, there are also some important differences between their ideal food pairings that you should bear in mind.
Oak-matured Chardonnay complements creamy dishes, such a risotto or a pasta dish with a creamy sauce. However, like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay also complements fish and poultry dishes with citrus flavors really well.
The main takeaway here is that both Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio work well with citrus flavors, and in terms of protein, both fish and chicken are excellent choices.
However, when it comes to Chardonnay, you should pay attention to whether the wine is oaked or unoaked. Oaked Chardonnay will have a creaminess to it that you should bear in mind when choosing food pairings.
Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are very similar wines in a number of ways. Not only are they both white wines, but they are both dry and acidic, with similar fruity notes of apple and citrus.
Because of this, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio go with similar dishes, including chicken and fish-based recipes with citrus flavors.
However, oak-matured Chardonnay will have more of a buttery and creamy mouthfeel, which means it can also complement creamy pasta dishes and risotto beautifully.
Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay have similar alcohol and calorie contents, but Chardonnay can reach a higher ABV of up to 15%, while Pinot Grigio can be slightly more calorific than Chardonnay.
Before deciding whether to buy a bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, you should consider the kinds of dishes you like to enjoy with your wine, as well as how strong you like your wine and what kind of mouthfeel you’re looking for.
These are key factors that differentiate these white wines from one another and will help you to make the right choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because Pinot Grigio is usually not aged in an oak barrel, and generally has fewer winemaking costs attached to it, it tends to be less expensive than Chardonnay.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a delicious wine that won’t break the bank, a reasonably-priced bottle of Pinot Grigio is a great choice.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little more expensive for an occasion, a good bottle of Chardonnay will be sure to impress.
Whether Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio tastes better to you will entirely depend on your individual palate. To some people, Pinot Grigio tastes much nicer than Chardonnay, whereas others prefer the flavor of Chardonnay to Pinot Grigio.
As a general rule of thumb, if you prefer a slightly sweeter white wine, you’ll like Chardonnay better than Pinot Grigio because the acidity is not so high.
Oaked Chardonnay, in particular, is creamier and more buttery, whereas oaked Chardonnay is more similar to Pinot Grigio in terms of dryness.
The exact alcohol content of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay will vary according to the specific bottle. Usually, these wines are roughly the same in terms of alcohol content, with both sitting somewhere between 11% and 13.5%.
However, in some cases, Chardonnay can contain 15% ABV. So, if you’re looking for a stronger white wine, try to find a particularly strong Chardonnay.
In terms of wine popularity, the rankings will be different depending on who and where you ask. In the United States, however, Chardonnay is the most popular white wine, with Pinot Grigio in a close second place.
This question sometimes causes confusion because even though Chardonnay is generally thought of as a full-bodied, dry white wine, many people will describe it as sweet. Chardonnay may be considered sweet in comparison to other, dryer wines.
The reason for this is that it might have some sweet notes from the oak-maturing process, or some residual sugars. The buttery quality associated with oak-matured wine can also be described as sweetness.
With that being said, although Chardonnay may taste sweet in comparison with some really dry white wines, it’s still a dry wine.
One of the reasons Chardonnay is considered to be sweeter than Pinot Grigio is that it contains more sugar per serving. Every 5-ounce serving of Chardonnay contains 1.5 grams of sugar.
Now, compared to many other wines, this is a low sugar level. However, Pinot Grigio contains even less sugar than Chardonnay, with 1 gram per 5-ounce serving.
Some wines are much better suited to cooking than others. Exposing wines to high temperatures can impact the flavor. However, Pinot Grigio is generally a good choice for cooking wine.
The flavor is quite neutral and not overly sweet, so if you’re cooking a dish that complements the citrus and fruit flavor profile well, adding some Pinot Grigio to your dish can elevate it to the next level.
Like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay is suitable for cooking. While it has a fairly high level of acidity, it also has a buttery texture, especially if it has been aged in an oak barrel.
In this case, Chardonnay will have enough depth and flavor to bring out the individual flavors in your cooking. For this reason, Chardonnay is many people’s cooking wine of choice.
Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are fairly equal in terms of caloric content. On average, a glass of Chardonnay is about 120 calories, and Pinot Grigio is about the same.
However, in some cases, Pinot Grigio can contain up to 125 calories per glass. Therefore, some bottles of Pinot Grigio may be slightly higher in calories than Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Noir, which is usually only 120 calories per glass.